Feasting on wild boar – a tasty Maremma tradition

written by Marijke Blazer – culinary travel journalist and culinary travel guide author

Wild boar on my mind

When you think of traditional flavours in the Maremma region in Tuscany, one of the most obvious choices that pop into mind is the wild boar. Or cinghiale, in Italian. At least, that’s what you should be thinking of as of now.

Announcements all around

The hunt (and the subsequential consumption) of the wild boar is celebrated with many local festivals (sagra) throughout Italy. One of those Sagra del Cinghiale is hosted every year in the second week of September in Capalbio.

Capalbio is an incredibly charming little fortified town at the Costa d’Argento in the Tuscan Maremma region and definitely worth a visit, even outside the wild boar season. Be warned though, you need some planning ahead since there is only one hotel: Valle de Buttero (serves a great breakfast, by the way, and has wonderful staff).

A few know-worthy titbits about wild boars:

  • Compared to the rest of Italy, the appearance of wild boars is most common in the Tuscan region.
  • Wild boars living in Italy in general weigh around 80 -100 kilograms, yet in Tuscany wild boars weighing up to 150 kilograms can be found.
Large male boar by night. Dead, that is to say.

Only the adult male boars grow tusks.

  • Nowadays hunting wild boars is highly popular, on one hand since they are considered as highly desirable game trophies, on the other hand because the wild boar inflicts significant damage to crops and forests because of their rooting in the search of food.
  • Already in the Roman era, the wild boar was a prestigious prey; at least three Roman legions showed the strong animal in their emblems.
wild boar as soft as butter

The hunt is called la caccia, and cinghiale alla cacciatora- "wild boar prepared in hunter style" - is one of the most popular ways to serve this, often a bit chewy, meat. Key ingredients of this rich stew are chunks of wild boar marinated overnight in red wine, olive oil and rosemary, prepared with vegetables, tomato sauce and a generous amount of garlic. The result is marvellous, you just have to be aware of the small pieces of bone...

Time for some tasting!

Visiting the Sagra del Cinghiale in Capalbio was a great way to get acquainted with several famous local culinary specialties of the Costa d’Argento and the Maremma region in general. At the festival you could taste four delicious wild boar dishes, proudly prepared by the male local community members:

Real guys know how to cook

Real guys know how to cook their Cinghiale alla Cacciatora

Juicy wild boar steak

Juicy wild boar steak

serious grilling of the wild boar steaks

Serious grilling of the wild boar steaks

Diggin'in - polenta con sugo del cinghiale

Third option: bowls of creamy polenta covered with steaming minced wild boar sauce (polenta con sugo di cinghiale) and topped with grated parmesan cheese.

Polenta on the menu

This sugo del cinghiale dish was kind of a surprise to me; I was keeping my eyes open for the traditional local way to serve sugo di cinghiale: with papardelle, the broad strips of pasta. Polenta as a base tasted great though!

Cozy arrangement of wild boar sausages

And lastly interesting looking sausages - dark and plum, straight of the large charcoal grills in the back.

All I can say is: the Maremma people earn two big thumbs up for the way they prepare their wild boar and I can definitely advise you give these traditional local dishes a try yourself during your visit to this region.

This article is also posted on www.curious-food-lover.com/blog, the website I run collecting culinary travel tips for curious food lovers all over the world.