Paccasassi or Spaccasassi is the dialect name for wild sea fennel. This natively-growing herb grows overlooking the sea. At first glance, it seems that its roots literally “split” the rocks while they creep into the cracks and take root in the soil and sand that they find in their path.
The Paccasassi del Conero, real pride of these lands, are included in the Arca del Gusto project of the Slow Food Foundation.
SEA FENNEL: THE HISTORY OF CONERO PACCASASSI
Wild sea fennel grows spontaneously along the coasts of the Mediterranean and northern Europe. Its trade was flourishing in the old continent until the end of the nineteenth century and its use has ancient attestations. Shakespeare in King Lear and Melville in Moby Dick also mention it.
The consumption of sea fennel was particularly popular among sailors to prevent scurvy, thanks to its richness in vitamin C. It has additional excellent nutritional qualities and contains beneficial substances: polyphenols and omega-3 fatty acids.
It began to disappear due to indiscriminate harvesting and, even today, in the Conero Regional Park and some areas of Italy and Europe, sea fennel is listed among the protected plant species.
PACCASASSI (SEA FENNEL) DEL CONERO
The Paccasassi del Conero emit the taste of the sea and the scent of the Earth. They have a savory, iodized, and aromatic taste, with marked citrus notes with hints of fennel and carrot. The leaves are fleshy and succulent.
They are first marinated in wine vinegar and then preserved in extra virgin olive oil. This is a characteristic preparation, deeply rooted in the local culinary tradition.
They are a very versatile ingredient in the kitchen, with countless combinations. They are ideal for delicious appetizers, but they can also enrich simple recipes, and be the protagonists of more elaborate dishes.
CONERO “PACCASASSI (SEA FENNEL)” COMBINATIONS
The Paccasassi are ideal served on toast in combination with salami, anchovies, smoked fish, or dairy products. They are excellent paired with main courses or meat, fish, and salads entrees. The local tradition suggests bread with mortadella and Paccasassi.
We also recommend them with moscioli (the wild mussels of Portonovo, Slow Food Presidium), a combination of two excellences of the Riviera del Conero.