For the Beltramis, making olive oil and cheese is a family affair


Ciao!” says the short, elderly woman standing behind the counter. On her apron are the words “Gastronomia Beltrami, Cartoceto, Italy.” This is Elide Beltrami, wife of Vittorio Beltrami, a man who has been ordained the “Einstein of cheese” by famous chef Lidia Matticchio Bastianich. With a wide, warm smile, Elide makes me feel as welcome as if I were walking into my local corner store.1-20190607_111054

However, Gastronomia Beltrami is not just your average corner store. Inside the front glass case are piles of pecorino cheese, made from the milk of the Beltramis’ sheep. To the left, stacked on wooden shelves, are jars of fig and other fruit jams, made by Elide and her family and wrapped in brown paper and ribbon. Lastly, on a wide oak cupboard are bottles of glistening green olive oil—a product that brought this family name much praise in the early 1900s—harvested from the Beltramis’ groves and pressed in a 500-year-old palace.

A petite woman in her mid-thirties with short dark-brown hair comes from the back and flashes a smile. This is Cristiana Beltrami, the daughter of Vittorio and Elide Beltrami. “Let’s go on a tour,” she says and I follow her to her car. As she drives, Cristiana explains that she has worked at the shop for 15 years, since graduating with a degree in economics from the University of Urbino.  READ MORE

See More Articles by Nandi Alexander

Italian: The Feast of the Seven Fishes

Calamari Salad:  a popular dish for the Feast of the Seven Fishes

The Feast of the Seven Fishes (festa de sette pesci) is a uniquely Italian tradition from Southern Italy, celebrated on Christmas Eve (also known as “the vigil” or “La Vigilia”). Although some parts of Italy do not celebrate the feast, it is believed to be an authentically Italian tradition going back to the Roman Catholic tradition of abstaining from the Italian xmas eveconsumption of meat or milk products on Fridays and specified holy days. In the stead of meat, Catholics ate fish, typically fried in oil. Other seafood has been incorporated into the celebration as well.

So why seven fish? The story is debatable. Some say it has to do with the number of sacraments celebrated in the Catholic church, while others say that it has everything to do with the Biblical meaning of the number seven representing perfection. No matter what the story…that’s a whole lotta’ seafood, so there’s bound to be a whole lotta’ family and friends and fun.

Popular dishes include

The meal’s components may include some combination of anchovieswhitinglobstersardines, dried salt cod, smelts, eelssquidoctopusshrimpmussels and clams. The menu may also include pastasvegetables, baked or fried kale patties, baked goods and homemade wine. This tradition remains very popular to this day.

Popular dishes

many more. See for menu tips for the Feast of the Seven Fishes

Fried Smelts: a popular dish for the Feast of the Seven Fishes