The “Rosati”: Foggia's oldest neighbourhood market


 

 

Everyone refers to it as "Rosati", the name of the road where the stalls are laid out with goods for sale: it's the oldest neighbourhood market of the city of Foggia in the southern Italian region of Puglia.
It's the folk's market par excellence. Every morning the products prepared or picked by small-scale farmers, herb collectors, shepherds and fishermen are sold at low prices, which become even lower in the late morning.
The products are very fresh, produced locally and just picked, processed or fished: among the most authentic in the remarkably varied local gastronomy.
 
 
 
 
 
 
The history of Foggia's markets dates back to the 13th century, when the "Puer Apuliae" Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, chose the city of Foggia as his favourite winter residence and each year stayed here for long periods with his imperial court.
The emperor would hunt in the surrounding woods with his beloved hawks and it was the vast woodlands of that period that obstructed the provision of locally produced agricultural goods.
It was by direct request of the imperial table that the collection of spontaneous and wild mushrooms and herbs started to flourish - borage, marascioli (wild mustard), wild fennel, chicory, caccialepri (reichardia picroides), sow thistle, cardoncelli (pleurotus eryngii) - that were all much appreciated by Frederick II, to whom we owe what is still one the most typical preparations of this area, known as "fogliammischiate" (meaning mixed leaves): a mixture of spontaneous herbs cooked with bacon rind.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Back in those days the collectors of spontaneous herbs would head for the areas used for cleaning and preparing vegetables and empty the result of their labour onto the ground: they would receive what was owed accordingly.
This ritual still takes place today at the "Rosati": the producer, collector, fisherman empties the product of his labour out of the containers used for transportation onto the market stalls and waits for his payment.
 
 
 
 
 
 
The past surfaces continuously from one stall to another of the market. From the vegetables, to the catch of the day, oily fish and Lesina eels, like the one ordered on May 28th of 1240 by Frederick II from Riccardo Pucaro of the Curia of Foggia: "To your good will we ask that Berardo, the chef our kitchen, receives some good Lesina fish and others of the best type one can find, so he can prepare for us askipeciam..." currently known as "Scapece". The Emperor's favourite version was made with oily fish and "Lesina" eels cut into 6-8 cm pieces, dipped in flour and fried, before being preserved in vinegar inside wood barrels.
 
Foggia soon became the arrival point of products from all the realm: "good hams" from Abruzzo, barrels of wine and cheeses from Sicily, muttons and "berries" from Calabria. Frederick II started a chicken, duck and geese farm; he also implanted new olive groves of the "Ogliarola" variety from Sicily.

 

One can still trace these and many more among the "Rosati" stalls: products and gestures that have reached us from a distant past.

Tags: borage / spontaneous herbs / scapece / eels / oily fish / lesina / middle ages / puer apuliae / stupor mundi / frederick II / puglia / foggia / neighbourhood / market / rosati / cardoncelli / pleurotus eryngii / marascioli / fogliammischiate / /

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