There are few festivals in Italy that don’t feature delicious local cuisine in their celebrations, and where there is food alongside fun, you can expect to find Intrepid’s Tamara Palinkas…
“I was really lucky, when in the small town of Maiori on the Amalfi Coast I got to celebrate Ferragosto with an Italian family. This is one of the most important Italian holidays, when on 15 August the country shuts down for a mid-summer feast celebrated with music and fireworks.
I was looking forward to the family lunch. Although delicious, the primo and secondo dishes were not anything special: pasta with tomatoes, grilled meat and mixed salad. However, the dessert was a great surprise! On this special day every family in Maiori eats melanzana alla cioccolata, eggplant with chocolate!
The recipe of this famed dessert originated in the monastery of Tramonti, a tiny village in the mountains above Maiori. During the Middle Ages the monks dipped their eggplant in a liqueur mixed with herbs, spices and sugar. When chocolate finally arrived to Europe from the New World in the 16th century, people in the region started dipping their eggplant in chocolate. The 21st century version is made by putting layers of fried eggplant slices and melted chocolate in a dish, with dried fruits on top.
As this is considered the most important traditional dish of Maiori, the locals celebrate it every year with the Festa della melanzana alla cioccolata. The festivities usually last 3 days, with fireworks, music and dancing, plus of course the famous songs from nearby Naples. I loved every moment of the festival but especially enjoyed tasting eggplant in all kinds of forms: on pizza, in a sandwich, grilled, baked, with pasta, with cheese, and above all, with chocolate!”
* photo by Thomas Hoehn – Intrepid Photography Competition