I can trace my life in a dish of pizzoccheri.

I’d just met my husband and we were spending all our weekends driving backwards and forwards in the dead of night up mountain passes as snow fell onto the windscreen. We’d park the car in the early hours of the morning and traipse down sometimes through half a metre of snow to get to the house we’d rented. There were evenings of at least twenty of us crammed round tables, everyone shouting and vying for attention. It’s how I learnt Italian. Not understanding anything and then gradually starting to understand something. Rose-tinted windows? Naturally.

Pizzoccheri, oozing, dripping, smothered in butter, the ultimate form of comfort food. Or rather buckwheat tagliatelle with cabbage or kale depending on your preference, a hint of garlic and plenty of butter and local cheese.

It’s an old dish, first recorded in 1548 by Ortensio Landi, and speaks the history of the valleys and pastures of the north of Italy. You can eat it in Valtellina, a broad valley that goes from the top of Lake Como as far as the Swiss border, and you can eat it in Valsassina, the valley above Lecco at the bottom of the eastern fork of Lake Como. The cheese generally used is casera – da casera, meaning from the room where it’s left to mature – or latteria coming from latte (milk).

There are other versions, some of which add wild mushrooms, but below is the link to the Latteria Valtellina recipe, which I think is about as authentic as you can get:


Buon appetito!

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