Avellino and its territory
The city of Avellino is situated three hundred and fifty metres above sea level, in the centre of a hollow surrounded by a picturesque circle of mountains. Its territory, however, is prevalently mountainous and rough, being composed, in the western part, of large rocks covered with woodland and, in the eastern part, at an average height, by an even plateau.
Its agricultural sector is considerably well developed, with the cultivation of cereals, potatoes, legume vegetables, olives, fruit trees and vineyards; the sector of animal rearing is also flourishing, with above all sheep and pigs.
The cuisine of this land is somewhat simple and very much tied to its products. As far as meat is concerned, barbecuing is the preferred method for cooking above all lamb and pork. The rearing of pigs also supplies salamis sausages and hams which are produced still using the bases of the traditional artisan processing methods, as is the case, for example, with the famous smoked soppressata: the mixture usually formed by two parts of lean meat from the ham and the fillet of the animal, to one part of fat; but the decisive characteristic is the pressing: the compressing under a weight, usually large stones, which takes place before the seasoning and the subsequent smoking which gives this product its particularly appreciated flavour.
The legume vegetables (beans, chick peas, broad beans, peas) are present both in the dressings of the first course dishes (soups and pasta) and as side courses to the meat, as well as, in the poorer areas, one-course meals: in this case, they are cooked with pancetta (Italian spiced bacon) and other parts of the pig which are used integrally. Sausages are very popular: a long, thin sausage which is made spicy by plenty of chilli pepper and which is consumed both as a dressing and also as a meal. The sausages are made exclusively with lean and fat pork, minced roughly, or even cut with the method ‘in punta "e curtiello"’. In the whole region, the sausage is called "cervellatina", even though brain (‘il cervello’) is no longer used as an ingredient as it used to be when this was as widespread also in Milan. In fact, the name is common to the «cervellata», a similar Milanese sausage which is today no longer to be found; this probably originates from the French cervelas, considering that Milan and Naples both had cultural ties over the centuries with France.
The rearing of animals also consents a plentiful production of dairy products: caciocavallo, provolone, scamorza cheeses and many varieties and cuts of mozzarella and salted ricotta which constitute a fundamental part of the alimentation in day to day life.
There are a number of bee-hives which find their nutrition in the many woods in the mountainous part of this region. These yield a honey which is much appreciated and which is eaten both in is natural state and used as a sweetener for cakes and sweets which can still be found at an excellent artisan level of production: hard, soft and small torroni (nougats) made with almonds, chocolate, with fillings; particularly notable, amongst the great number, is the «pan di Iorio», with a layer of trifle sponge between two layers of torrone.