A San Marino History

- In collaboration with www.paesaggiritrovati.it online newspaper of culture of the territory
Although it’s one of the smallest republics in Europe, the Republic of San Marino, better known as the Republic in the Republic, the oldest in the world, in terms of popular and culinary traditions, is not missing anything. Many, in fact, might be surprised by the wealth concentrated in this small pocket of land with a strong identity, especially at the table. Moreover, the popular history of a region is intimately linked to that of its diet. In the shadow of Mount Titano, beneath the gaze of its proud towers, even today, despite the industrial revolution that has emptied the countryside, the ancient traditions of the cuisine of San Marino return to prominence with a medieval re-enactment and a village festival.

Here, agricultural cooperatives, with names that are in themselves already very important, such as “Ammasso agricultural products,” harvest wheat and barley turn them into baked goods, similar to those of the past, with Romagna influences. Like the piadina, in its subtle variation from near Rimini, whose recipe has remained intact and still accompanies any type of food, from field vegetables to fine meat dishes. At one time, one part corn meal was added to a mixture of flour and water, and on important occasions, it was seasoned with pork lard, giving rise to an even puff pastry piada. Or there’s another old and now very popular dish, polenta in a board, once served with a sausage sauce and grated pecorino and the full version with a sauce of small birds, bacon fat and sage. Staying on the same subject, among homemade pasta that today are still very welcome there’s strozapret, made from flour, water and salt and served with meat sauce and cheese; but what has by now fallen into disuse is the soup of the poor, known as bobolotti, consisting of a dough made of flour, water and salt, cut into large squares and cooked in water with a sauce of bacon and dark beans.

Here, the "Land of San Marino" consortium processes the milk of local factories to produce regional cheese: from fresh varieties such as Casatella and Nuvoletta, to mature ones such as Campagnola, Noce and Fossa. Here, the people of San Marino produce their own extra virgin olive oil and various types of organic honey. But above all, the farmers have a thirty-year history of high-quality and guaranteed beef. While the "Mad Cow" scandal was raging throughout Italy, prohibiting the most famous beef, “Fiorentina," it became acclaimed for its quality and safety, even beyond national borders. Today, all this has become a book, titled "A History of San Marino,” which collects the stories of 30 years of passion passed down from father to son. A journey that starts with straw, arriving at, after about a year and a half or two, on the tables of the citizens of San Marino. Not everyone, in fact, knows that in the Republic there are stables, a real thing that has secular traditions. Stables which cover more than half of domestic demands for meat from the cafeterias of schools and kindergartens to those of the hospital, with selected breeds in the area, such as "Romagnola" and "Limousine," subject to strict disciplinary action and 80 percent with only San Marino grains, particularly barley, fava and sorghum.

What’s also notable is the old tradition of baked goods, and the sweets Torta Tre Monti and Torta Titano, which are a special gift for any visitor to San Marino. The first is made of soft and fragrant round wafers filled with cocoa and hazelnut cream, stacked in five layers and finished with an outer ring of dark chocolate. The second one has two layers of pastry made with ground almonds and peanuts, eggs and honey, hand-rolled with a rolling pin and baked, which encloses a filling of fine chocolate, the scent of alcohol and a soft meringue. Both, however, are made with natural ingredients and no preservatives, made using the same techniques employed since 1942, and its been given a mark of origin for typtical artisanal products of the Republic. The original recipes are carefully guarded by the oldest manufacturers, but they have let a few hints go: the real secret is to use varieties of the rarest cocoa, coffee and nuts finely work them to bring out their flavors. Among the latest, there is "Verretta," a chocolate dessert where nuts, chocolates and small pieces of wafer are mixed together, and takes its name of the arrow used in the great crossbow tournaments. This is, again, old “San Marino history.”