Autumn on Your Table: Funghetti di Offida
Autumn has always been one of my favourite seasons. The falling leaves, the colours, the smell of the earth so strong and pungent, the chill in the air in the morning. And of course the food that goes with it. Chestnuts, pumpkins, apples, and mushrooms.
It is mushrooms that drew me to these biscuits of Le Marche, a less known region of Italy, tucked between Umbria and Abruzzo, rich of beautiful villages, gentle hills and a relaxing coast, and the birth place of some of the key figures of Italy culture from the poet Giacomo Leopardi to the revolutionary educator Maria Montessori. Urbino alone deserves a weekend trip.
The food from Le Marche finds ancient origins and often based on very few and simple ingredients. These biscuits are the perfect example.
After several sieges during the XIV century people were left with very little. The women of Offida, a hill side village near Ancona, decided to create a simple, cheap but energetic snack for their men and children by mixing just flour, honey (which then got replaced by sugar), a bit of water, and aniseed which during those days was mainly used for beverages. Cooked quickly and let dry for a few days they could last for days and enjoyed on their own or with a drink. Given the lack of moulds the Offida women used small tin circles which gave the the typical shape of small mushrooms. They can now be found in bags at most bakeries and at stalls during festivities. Given its historical importance the funghetto has even been granted denomination of counsel (a sub-category of the more known denomination of region or of origin). Happy mushroom hunting to all!
Recipe is for 25 small/medium funghetti