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The gastronomy of Matese has remained linked to the farmers' tradition and faithful to its products.
The breeding of cattle, goats, and sheep gives rise to a local product par excellence: cheese.
Cheese-lovers will appreciate the tasty "caciocavallo", the goats' milk cheese, and the sheep's milk cheese, signaled in the list of the best Italian cheese.
The lamb's and kid's meat are excellent. The breeding of pigs provides us with great ham (the famous ham of Pietraroja), "capicollo", sausages, bacon, and the typical charcuterie product of Castello Matese "cazzu'ntontulu".
Nature-lovers cannot avoid to consider the spontaneous growth of wild products on which the preparation of most of the dishes of the Matese area is based: that is wild strawberries, marjoram, oregano, chestnuts, and mushrooms, among which the St. George's mushrooms and the very precious edible boletus which can be tasted in a thousand of manners during the famous "Sagra dei Funghi" held in Cusano Mutri.
The Benevento slopes of the Park as well as the piedmont slopes of Caserta produce an excellent olive oil.
The gastronomy of Matese is linked to the farmers' tradition, rich in simple and authentic tastes, but which is also strong and marked in taste.
First dishes are usually based on home-made pasta (cavatelli, tagliatelle, lagane, fusilli), with legumes (the beans from Letino, unique in the world for their shape and organoleptic features, are rather famous) or sauces with various kinds of meat, finding their maximum expression in the cavatelli with bolognese sauce, a typical dish of the holidays, eaten with lamb or mutton and pecorino cheese. Very common is also polenta with pig sausages or with vegetables and beans.
The preparation of "marruche" snails with broth is typical of the Municipality of Ailano, while in Alife onion soup and omelet are common. As far as Alife is concerned, we must also quote the wine of the location "S.Michele", mentioned in the wine encyclopedia by Veronelli.
In Capriati sul Volturno, as a tradition, at Easter giant omelets are prepared with more than one hundred eggs.
In Letino and Raviscanina the "frascariegli" can be tasted, while in Piedimonte Matese the local gastronomy offers a considerable variety of typical products, among which snails with sauce, celery soup with dried salted cod, "piccelati" ("Pighe"), "casatelli", "caniscioni" of home-made pasta filled with vegetables or ham, eggs, cheese, and cooked in wood oven.
In Valle Agricola the typical local dish is sausage with broth and salad, while S. Lorenzello is known for its very tasty "taralli".
However, the Matese area is characterized by pastures and transhumance: for this reason, the sheep meat is the protagonist, since its genuineness derives from the uncontaminated pastures of the slopes of the Matese area.
Besides the common barbecued and on the spit dishes, you can taste: lamb or kid "alla pecoraia", cut into pieces and cooked with water, salt, onion, and of course chili pepper, to serve on slices of toasted bread; kid's stew cacciatore; "cace e ova" lamb of Matese, finally the "pezzata", lamb meat cooked according to the ancient recipes of the ancient transhumance, boiled for hours in big boilers with the aromatic herbs which can be found in the bivouac places.

 


Craftsmanship

The attention to craftsmanship has always been a prerogative of the Matese area, also because of the need to face not only the request of services by the local community, but also the requests coming from the adjacent places.
In many municipalities of the Matese area there is the tradition to work the timber by hand: good craftsmen working in this field can be found in Gioia Sannitica, San Potito Sannitico, Letino, Ailano, and Pratella. They build several tools, such as benches, spoons, and baker's shovels.
Another rather widespread tradition in Gioia Sannitica and Piedimonte Matese is iron working, while in other Municipalities copper working is widespread.
In Letino there is still the tradition to work the typical local costume enriched with embroidery and laces made by hand by the local women. Also in Prata Sannita and Sant'Angelo d'Alife the art of embroidering and crocheting is widespread. In Gallo Matese the precious lace pillow working producing a particularly elaborated and unique lace is common.
In Gallo Matese and Letino the stone is still worked by chiseling it by hand.
In the Municipalities of Letino and Raviscanina a few but great craftsmen use the wicker which they interlace obtaining baskets of various shapes and dimensions.
Finally, the production of artistic ceramics in Cerreto and S. Lorenzello boasts of an ancient tradition dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries, when the industry of dishes adopted the features of art in the several majolica-craftsmen's workshops. Some decades ago the craftsmen recovered this activity with great skill, by attracting the attention of several ceramics enthusiasts and researchers who meet every year on the occasion of the "Rassegna della Ceramica artistica e Tradizionale - Regioni d'Italia".

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