For a May Day Picnic: Fave e pecorino

 

Fave e pecorino is not really a “dish” at all, you just set out the fava beans, in their pods, and a hunk of pecorino cheese. Each diner opens the pods for themselves and eats the raw fava beans they find inside with a bit of pecorino, washed down with a well-chilled dry white wine. Odd as it may sound, it is a combination that was just meant to be. 
 
Romans traditionally eat fave e pecorino on May 1, preferably while they picnic fuori porta, or literally ‘outside the gate’ meaning outside town. Romans will pick up and find any green spot (even city parks if they can’t get out of the town) to set out their picnic lunch. When we were living in downtown Rome close to the Campo dei fiori, we’d often go up the Gianicolo, a high hill just across the river, for our May Day picnics. When we moved to a country setting on the outskirts of town, we could just sit outside on the terrace; and we would often come across strangers picnicking down the hill from our house!
 
If you want to get fancy, you can de-pod and shell the fava beans, cube the cheese and combine the two with a bit of oil, salt and pepper to make a salad. That is how I had this once in a tony restaurant in Florence. But personally I like the rustic informality of eating the raw ingredients.



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11 Responses to “For a May Day Picnic: Fave e pecorino”

  1. 1 May 2011 at 16:27 #

    Seriously…and you moved?? =) I think I'd be up for this not just on May 1!

  2. 1 May 2011 at 11:21 #

    I got the first fava beans of the season last week at the farmers' market: what a pleasure to have them with real pecorino! My father loves fava beans, so this time of the year my mother would buy them often and we also visited farmers who grew them. I am glad they are becoming more and more common in the US. If you don't find them in your area, try asking a farmer to grow some: you never know…

  3. 1 May 2011 at 11:21 #

    so interesting! And this dish is very much my kind of al fresco meal! Theresa

  4. 1 May 2011 at 09:44 #

    You lived by the Campo dei fiori and moved? Campo dei fiori was one of my favorite places in Italy. My wife and I stumbled across it on our own and a couple of days later we brought people from our tour back so we could have lunch there.

  5. 4 June 2010 at 13:34 #

    Oh ,yes. I tried this combination last mounth. Very tasty ,especialy with pancetta :-)

  6. 5 May 2010 at 22:47 #

    Pecorino, honey and a little black pepper and heaven. Fava beans are abonus@

  7. 4 May 2010 at 12:52 #

    This Saturday I had the wonderful opportunity to share this classic Roman tradition with my friend's family. The taste of these two foods combined is unexpected, yet delicious. The beans have to be really fresh, we picked them that same morning!

  8. 2 May 2010 at 09:49 #

    Happy May 1st, a day late

  9. 1 May 2010 at 17:53 #

    I learned about grilling fava beans in Sicily. I wish I could find them in my market.

  10. 14 September 2009 at 16:59 #

    I didn't know this was a common Italian flavor combination- thanks for sharing!

  11. 27 July 2009 at 03:44 #

    Hmmm, the pecorino coi baccelli, as they call in in Tuscany, is one of the simplest pleasures in life. But what a pleasure! :)

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