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Fairytales and Flatbread in Alto Adige

Location: Merano, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy

 

We spent this New Year’s Eve in Merano, a lovely town completely surrounded by mountains in Trentino-Alto Adige. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the region, Trentino-Alto Adige is basically the least Italian place in Italy. Situated on the borders of Switzerland and Austria, it’s is an autonomous region (their healthcare and school systems are separate from the rest of Italy) divided into two parts: Trentino, the southern province, and Alto Adige (South Tyrol in English), the northern province. Merano is in the Alto Adige part. Generally speaking, those who are from the area identify more with the German culture and lifestyle, and are not too fond of being considered Italians. If you take a stroll around Merano, it really doesn’t look like the rest of Italy. The majority of the population speaks German as their first language, not to mention that everything is written in both Italian and German. Our nephew and niece who are elementary school age and younger, are learning Italian, German, and English at school, which is pretty awesome.

 

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Other than being known for its thermal spas and mountain hiking trails, Merano is well known for its Christmas markets. The streets become lined with wooden stands selling all types of local artisan crafts, beers, scarves, hats, and other specialty products.

While strolling through the crowded main street, my sister-in-law’s husband suddenly ushered us over to this food stand and insisted we try these:

 

Dinnede

Image: holzofendinnede.com

 

They’re called dinnede (or dinnete or dinnele depending on the location), and they’re a local specialty, originally from Swabian Germany. They’re a type of flat, oblong-shaped wood fired pizza, covered with mouth-watering toppings like potatoes, onions, and speck. I’m pretty sure I was drooling because I hadn’t had breakfast, and the heavy aroma of melted onions, speck, and speck fat was enveloping me like the fog in a Turkish bath. All of the toppings were chopped into perfectly tiny pieces so that the flavors melted together easily.

This would have been a monumental moment in my eating career…except for the fact that we only bought one, and split it between three adults and one kid. This was a horrible mistake, but we were on our way to a huge family lunch to eat the leftovers from the previous day’s huge family lunch, and so we couldn’t arrive full. We were in a hurry, so I scarfed my piece down and cried on the inside. I didn’t even have time to take a picture of it. It will stay in my dreams until I have the next bite.

 

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