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What’s in Season in Campania?

What’s in Season in Campania?

Campania marketI’m not quite sure. I’m getting ready for a trip to southern Italy, which means a lot of armchair food travel. Seriously a lot, like to the point of such visual and verbal surfeit that I feel like I’ve already eaten my way through Campania and Rome.

I’ve repeatedly daydreamed my way through Fred Plotkin’s Italy for the Gourmet Traveller, which I consider the bible for such things. Also David Downie’s exhaustive Food Wine Rome; Elizabeth Minchilli’s elegant blog; and whatever little electronic alleyways I stumble upon, such as Amy Sherman’s 9 Best Things to Eat in Campania. (BTW, Elizabeth leads amazing food tours and trips to the Slow Food Salone.)

Campania, which Victor Hazan tells me is “essential Italy,” promises the best tomatoes, eggplants, hazelnuts (Avellino), and lemons (Amalfi, Capri). Ever. And Rome is the capital of artichokes and puntarelle, a kind of chicory.

But when exactly will I find these mouth-watering treats? Not one food guide I’ve looked at talks about season. Is there one you know that does?

Photo courtesy

I’m going this month. Imagine heading to the source of Insalata Caprese and discovering I’ve arrived a month too early. I live and eat in a Mediterranean climate, but wonder how much the latitudinal and longitudinal differences tweak the timing in Italy. Here in California, artichokes are best in the spring and chicories are milder in cool weather. How are they in early summer in Rome? In June, will I find ripe tomatoes drying in doorways to concentrate their flavors or Percoca peaches to cut and drop into a glass of wine? Based on what I know about seasonal nuances at home, I doubt it.

Or do Italians offer, as we sadly sometimes do here, second-rate, out-of-season versions of their regional specialties, tourist beware? I wish more travel food writers (or editors?) would realize that when is as important as where to find something.

To be fair, David touches upon the seasons here and there, and you can piece them together if you search Elizabeth’s blog archive by month. But it sure would be nice if there was a drop down menu or a little list at the start of a chapter. And not just for crops, for local dishes, too.

What will I find in Italy during the last two weeks in June? Stay tuned.


  1. Lisa June 14, 2012 at 10:08 am - Reply

    Bon voyage! I’ll look forward to hearing about your adventures, edible and otherwise, when you return!

  2. Judy Witts Francini June 14, 2012 at 11:27 am - Reply

    well I am heading down at the end of the month ( june 23-24) for the pasta festival in gragnano— I know , pasta has no seasons! All over italy, we gather green walnuts now to make nocino liquore. ( nocillo in naples) we are at the end of artichokes and asparagus. tomatoes are coming in– but not drying yet– that will be later in the season! it is really a lot like california– just think that there is more flavor!
    maybe will bump into you!

  3. JUDY ZEIDLER June 14, 2012 at 1:10 pm - Reply




  4. Amelia Saltsman June 15, 2012 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    To Judy Z–I wished I thought to pack your book! Drat! Would love it if you email me names of anyone you would like me to give regards to and i will do my best!

  5. Amelia Saltsman June 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    To Judy WF–Maybe our paths will cross next week! email or tweet me and let me know! that would be so fun. Yes, very excited for green walnuts. Maybe i can join a nocino-making session. Our local farmers here bring them to the farmers market. as for flavor here in california, if you’re talking about tasting industrially grown and shipped produce, i agree. But have you tried the intensely flavorful ingredients from the passionate farmers who sell through the best farmers’ markets? If not, you must come and try!

  6. Henrietta June 19, 2012 at 10:31 am - Reply

    Italy’s always a serious favorite of mine. Good luck on your trip.

    I can tell you that no matter what is available, if you’re in the right places, it will be absolutely fantastic.

    Italy is the best of the best, at least when it comes to rich foods. 😉

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