Il Mercato nel Campo

Trip Start Feb 23, 2010
Trip End Jul 15, 2010

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Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Monday, March 29, 2010

Il Campo is center of many civic events in Siena, and we were fortunate to experience one of them several weekends ago. The "Il Mercato del Campo" is a one-day festival that features the best foods and crafts from the province of Siena.  Vendors from local farms, shops, restaurants and trades come to the HUGE market in the Campo to sell produce (vegetables, fruits), local honey, jams, preserves, meats, cheeses, and arts and crafts of the Siena region.  We bought salami, prosciutto, cheese, wine, oranges and artichokes.  By the way, this was our inaugural attempt at cooking artichokes and we're not sure we got it right, although they tasted very good.  Any suggestions would be appreciated!   At the market, there are also performances by stilt walkers and jugglers throughout the day. 
A major portion of the market consists of the displays of meats of various farms and butchers from Siena and the surrounding region.  And there is no doubt that they are big on the pig in Tuscany; the wave of porcine passion hits you like a salami tsunami!   They really live high on the hog, Harley!  I had never seen so much salami and pork products in one place!  Cured meats and salumi are locally produced staples that are available in every alimentari, macelleria (butcher shop), and are featured in local ristoranti.  Wild boar is a typical regional delicacy and is roasted, used in stews, or made into sausage. Lesly and I feasted on sandwiches with grilled sausage and roasted pork (porchetta) (see photos). They were fantastic!  They really have perfected the production of pork provisions into a “swience”! 

In Praise of Prosciutto!
Prosciutto is an expensive and rare treat for us in the US, especially in South Carolina. We usually wait to have it for special occasions, such as at Christmas time in Windsor.  Each year Lesly’s cousin, Les, makes prosciutto and various salami at home, using his own special spice mixtures.  They are definitely one of the highlights of our Christmas. The process of butchering and preparing a leg to cure is a very meticulous thing, and one slight knick of the bone can ruin an entire ham.  The dry-curing process itself can take several months to years, depending on the artist’s tastes. Although, technically, it is a specially cured pork ham, calling prosciutto just a “ham” is like calling truffles just “mushrooms” – neither term does justice to the product. The prosciutto crudo (raw ham), famously originated in the Parma region (prosciutto di Parma) and is made using pigs that have been sometimes fed Parmagiano Regiano whey. It is now produced in many other areas of Italy, such as the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, which gives us prosciutto di San Daniele. Prosciutto can vary in salt content, sweetness, and may have a nutty or fruit flavor.  In Siena we can buy several types at the meat counter for €15-25 per kilogram (US$ 9.50-15 per pound). We found whole prosciutto (the entire leg!) in one supermercato (supermarket) for about €4-5 per kilo!  Of course, you have to slice it yourself; but hey, if you’re having a prosciutto party, it’s worth it!   
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Martha on

Loved all the pictures I have to wonder though how much cheese can one city eat.

Andrea Oles on

Talk to my grandma about making artichokes. She used to make one for Kevin every time he went to her house. I actually made one the other day, but I had no idea what I was doing. I'm sure she would love to share her cooking technique with you!

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