Italian Riviera traditional cuisine with its genuine, pure and straightforward flavors provides in many recipes for a bunch of wild herbs called “prebuggiun” (/’prebuddʒun/).
This is a mix of wild herbs that farmers pick up in the fields, along the borders of country lanes or in the narrow terraces clinging to the mountain slopes called “fasce” (/’faʃʃe/), one by one, now as it was then.
Cooks use them to prepare soups and minestrone, to fill savory pies and vegetarian ravioli (such as the famous pansotti) or sauté with garlic and anchovies as a light side dish.
Which plants compose this grassy bouquet is difficult to say precisely. Each village and each peasant family has its personal version, due to the local and seasonal availability and to taste. According to someone prebuggiun is made up of 7 different herbs, according to others of 12 .
Usually, these are some of the wild herbs that put together an Italian Riviera prebuggiun:
- wild fennel
- wild radicchio
- wild poppy
- leaved asparagus
- horse radish
- slim-leaved wall rocket
Nowadays, due to the progressive abandonment of the countryside and the consequent impoverishment of the popular culture, getting these herbs is even more difficult.
This is why in order to continue cooking the traditional peasant recipes, it is common to replace the folk mix with those herbs easier to find at the greengrocers’ such as spinaches, chards, barrages and endive.
On my opinion prebuggiun amazing features are indeed the spontaneity and variety of its herbs. Therefore I cook dishes requiring prebuggiun (such as pansotti, my favorite filled pasta) only when one of my farmers friends (I have a secret list of contacts) are able to provide me with a case of wild and fresh daily herbs of different varieties, better if mostly unknown to me (I adore the thrill of rurality!).
However you can enjoy the taste of our traditional recipes making the substitution above mentioned. The grassy and peasant flavors will shine through anyway!
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