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Horseradish

Once known as the truffle of the poor, the horseradish is a root vegetable harvested on the hills in the Lucan inlands. It should be eaten in February for one to appreciate its full richness, penetrating and strong fragrance and elaborated flavour with sweet and strongly balsamic hints, which alleviate its characteristic spiciness. The palate is not the unique asset of this vegetable, it also has a high level of healty substances.

Although some use its leaves to prepare salads, the root is the most appreciated part overall, and needs over two years to ripen and acquire its characteristic aromatic power. In reality, the horseradish continues to grow even after being harvested: in fact one of the best techniques used to preserve consists of burying the root after having cut out the parts necessary for cooking. The root ought to be peeled and grated in order to give off its scent. Of course, it is hard work: whoever may feel like going through this enterprise should be prepared for swollen eyes and some tears. This feature is the reason why some elderly people are playfully used to ask crying girls if they have been grating roots. Even though it can be pickled and dried in the oven, the horseradish is at its best fresh: the Lucan tradition uses it to flavour ferretti served with pork and wild boar ragù, and to prepare the rafanata, with an egg base, pecorino cheese and, of course, horseradish.

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