This post is written with the assistance of http://www.caserecci.com/ Please visit and support their online store. A list of all pronunciations with audio and phonetic spelling is at the end of this article.
“Lampascioni”, or “pampasciuni” are in fact a type of Hyacinth known as Tassel Hyacinths in English or by the Latin names Muscari Comosum or Leopoldia comosa.
This short-stemmed plant with thin leaves and purple flowers belongs to the same family as garlic, but its bulbs are more similar in appearance to onions: they share the same tight-layered structure.
Lampascioni are commonly used in recipes in Puglia and Basilicata in the south of Italy, but they are not really eaten in the rest of Italy where regional cooking can vary far more than the menu at the local Italian trattoria can lead us to believe.
Today they are planted more deeply, but still harvested by hand to protect the delicate bulbs, which is quite labor intensive.
Gatherers have to dig under the plants until they find little bulbs with a dark-brown exterior and a rose-coloured core which are carefully removed to prevent damage.
Preparation Of Lampascioni
They must then be soaked in water so that they can release a sort of sticky/gluey substance which is very bitter. Once they are given a final rince they can be used in various ways.
Lampascioni In Recipes
Lampascioni can be enjoyed stewed and served with olive oil and pepper, or slightly mashed with oil, garlic, parsley and vinegar. Connoisseurs prefer to cook them under hot embers (alla brace) and then serve them peeled with oil, vinegar and salt in order to preserve all their flavour.
They are also delightful as a side-dish to lamb, as fritters fried in batter or added to omelettes. Another delicious snack can be made by slicing the lampascioni into quarters, deep frying them and serving them with salt and hot dried chili flakes.
Buying Lampascioni Sott’olio
Lampascioni cooked in the traditional way and preserved in olive oil are sold as ‘Lampascioni sott’olio’ (meaning ‘under oil), or even more correctly as ‘Lampascioni alla brace in olio di oliva” (Lampascioni cooked under embers in olive oil).
If you would like to buy lampascioni online, Caserecci.com is an online store which specialises in the cuisine of Puglia, and they have directly contributed to this article with invaluable information (no, they do not pay or sponsor me in any way for the mention, they are laudably trying to spread the word about Puglian cuisines and delicacies, and I’m thrilled to have access to authentic, first-hand information).
Puglians will refer to a tall, clumsy person as a lampascione – in the local Puglian dialect you would say: “S’ proprio nu lampasciun” (You are a real lampascioni).
Pronunciation Of Lampascioni And Related Words
(Phonetic spelling is not as perfect a source of how to pronounce words as the International Phonetic Alphabet, but most people can relate to it. Use it in conjunction with the audio and your own natural accent.
Note that on this site ‘-oh-‘ in the Latin languages refers to the fact that ‘o’s’ are pronounced closest to the ‘o’ in ‘hot’, not like the English word ‘oh’.
Vowels are more rounded in Italian than in English, and the ‘h’serves as a reminder of that)
Lampascioni lam:pah:SHOH:neh not lam:pah:SHEE:oh:nee
Puglia POO:lyah (the ‘oo’ is short, like in ‘book’) not POO:lee:ah
alla brace AH:lah BRAH:tcheh
olio di oliva OH:lyoh dee oh:LEE:vah