Blog Action Day -Poverty and Food: "poor foods" Italian recipes

How poverty doesn’t stop hunger

How hunger fight poverty

Poverty and food are issue strictly linked. Food could be considered a type of our wellness or richness.

Experts identify two hot topics associated with food: food insecurity and food poverty.

Food insecurity is refers to the availability of food and one’s access to it.. According to statistics elaborated by FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) over 800 million people suffer from hungry.

While food poverty means to obtain healthy affordable food. It could be just a logistic issue, such as in case of lack of shops in the living area or the presence of difficulties in reaching them, or be a cultural issue, i.e. lack of knowledge what constitutes a healthy diet and the skills to create healthy meals, or a broader economical issue.

Studies enlighten that low-income households:

§ eat less well and have inferior food intake and lower compliance with dietary recommendations and nutrient intake

§ while spending a relatively higher share of income on food, have difficulties accessing a variety of good quality, affordable food

§ know what are healthy food options, but are restricted by financial and physical constraints in exercising these choices

§ are restricted socially and culturally in their food consumption patterns due to financial constraints.

(reference: Food Poverty and Policy 2004 ).

It’s not only an economical, moral issue. It impact on health should be taken into account.


These issues aroused even in the past, when, for instance, the poor where our grandparents or even parents. To feel the issue of poverty as more related to our lives, image to your grandparents tales and experiences. For instance, for my father Xmas presents were oranges. While for my mother, given her parents were away a great part of the year because worked in France, her special annual presence was a volume a year of an child encyclopaedia.  That was the reality 50-60 years ago in north-east of Italy.


How people in Italy dealt with food poverty in the last century? Nowadays past so called poor foods have become a sort of special food, in some cases even expensive. But it was just everyday food, often without alternatives, even replicated day by day.


Italy is composed by 20 Region, each with its peculiarities and history.


Looking to the picture of Italy, to have an idea how food is also related to geographical location:




Here you find a list of some typical recipes done with poor foods. For each food you find a link to another site in which it is presented. In the majority of cases is an Italian web site. 

My aim is just to give you an idea on how poor people ate in the past, how they fought poverty at the dinner table.

Some foods are common to many region. For instance, I just reported Polenta for Veneto region, but it was the most common food on the north Italy in the past. It was eaten so often, and in many case in great quantity in absence of other food, that it was the base not only of the diet but also of diseases.


Starting from the North – West…


Valle D’Aosta: Bread with with chestnut flour

Piemonte: Bagna cauda

Lombardia: Zuppa alla pavese

Liguria: Farinata

Trentino Alto Adige: Gröstl

Veneto: Pasta e fagioli (Pasta with beans) or  “poenta e osei”

Friuli Venezia Giulia: Patate in tecia (Potatoes in the pot)

Emilia Romagna: Quadritìn sàl puràzi

Toscana : Acquacotta (Boiled water)

Marche: Fristingo , done for Xmas

Umbria: Minestra di cicerchie (Soup with “cicerchie”)

Abruzzo: Pallotte Cace e ove

Lazio: Minestra «stracciatella»

Molise: Zuppa di ortiche (Soup with nettles)

Campania: Minestra Mmaritata (“Married” Soup)

Puglia: ‘ncapriata di cicoria e fave in purea

Basilicata: Pettole

Calabria: this region is famous for “peperoncino” or red pepper called the food of poor people

Sicilia: Cudduruni

Sardegna: Pane frattau


This is a not esaustive list of poor recipes in Italy. I’ve tried not to replica almost similar recipes. My goal was to give you an idea how Italians lived poverty on their table.


Think to differences respect our days. And how there poor foods are often very expensive in the restaurant, even in Italy. While in the past, they were in the everyday diet.


My message is: Thinks what’s behind food. How food is related to hunger apart that to tasting pleasure. How food can tell you of people lives.


Which was the food of your grandparents? Let’s discuss all together about that.