Food is certainly one of the main attractions for a trip to Matera or in general to southern Italy. Basilicata is a region where food is genuine, where dried tomatoes are really dried in the sun and Slow Food is truly the pleasure of experiencing the meal. The dishes are prepared only with the freshest local ingredients, following ancient recipes. The peasant tradition of Matera and the neighboring regions, such as Puglia, Campania, Calabria and Abruzzo, has created recipes in which the ingredients used are often difficult to find elsewhere. The local dishes most used in Lucanian restaurants are legume soups, such as Cicerchie (a hybrid of beans and chickpeas); chicory served on fava bean puree or the famous Senise Cruschi Peppers, dried, fried and salted red peppers and used as a condiment for various dishes. Try the Ferrandina Maize Olives (in the province of Matera) that are eaten without tanning or rather fried and salty or the famous Sarconi beans, wild mushrooms or a typical variety of truffle, much less expensive than that from Piemonte and Northern Italy.
In many restaurants in the region it is easy to find a Pignata, mutton that is cooked in a rather tall terracotta container covered and closed by a layer of dry bread to form a kind of pressure cooker. The meat is left to boil slowly for several hours in a wood oven. Pork sausage can also be found on several menus. The typical Lucana sausage is matured with fennel seeds and often a touch of chilli pepper which is found in different shapes and sizes and which provides a spicy tip to almost everything. At the restaurant all meals are accompanied by Matera Bread, mixed with durum wheat flour and cooked in a wood oven according to tradition. It has a very hard rind and is yellow in color inside and is known because it can be kept for a long time and even hardened it is excellent for the preparation of various pies, including the Cialledda, the typical dish of Matera farmers, in all its variants, made precisely from bread. But … be careful, which is addictive!