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Foodie Cinema | Molise is still my name

(by Andrea Gropplero - Cinecittario: Archivio Luce)

When E.B. Clucher, the pseudonym used by Enzo Barboni, shot scenes for Trinity is still my name (1971) in Molise, the youngest region in Italy was only 8 years old. Recognised as a Region in 1963, the history of Molise is inextricably tied to adjacent Abruzzo with whom it shared everything for centuries: name, traditions and culinary culture. The evolution of spaghetti westerns into cazzotti (or fistfight) westerns (also known as fagioli or slapstick westerns) was extremely successfully globally with young boomers in the 1970s who appreciated the grafting of comedy into the rigid and schematic genre.

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The locations

Campo Imperatore Plateau
Region: Abruzzo Type: Altopiano Territory: montagna, pianura
Regional Nature Park of Monti Simbruini
Region: Lazio Type: Parchi naturali Territory: montagna
Region: Molise Type: Paese Territory: borgo, centro storico, montagna, paese

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Beans and fistfights, the Italian western conquers the world

The childhood of many boomers was marked by E.B. Clucher’s Trinity and Bambino saga which began in 1970. Five films made between 1970 and 1974 dominated the box office for months enjoying unimaginable success with the public, but not critics, on a global level: They Call me Trinity (1970), Trinity is Still my Name (1971) and Man of the East (1972), Even Angels Eat Beans (1973), Anche gli angeli tirano di destro (1974) became a genre within the genre, something we can define today with a single word: cult.
Italy post-economic boom was travelling at two different speeds: development in the North, unemployment in the South. It’s like saying that in the North people worked and laughed while in the South they laughed, only to avoid crying.
By the 1970s, with Fascism and the war in the past, Italy was a country with a huge desire for laughter and the rediscovery of popular traditions. The radio played Renzo Arbore and Gianni Boncompagni’s programme Alto Gradimento, songs by Sixties singers Mina and Lucio Battisti were popular, black and white TV fare accommodated comedians and the cinemas were showing Italian-style comedy (commedia all’italiana), spaghetti westerns and cazzotti westerns. The success of these films financed and facilitated the production of arthouse films by some of Italy’s best writers and directors who certainly did not garner the same box office numbers.
It would be superfluous to describe the influence of Italian-style comedy where comedy combined the arthouse and popular genres, as did the spaghetti western with Sergio Leone’s greatness celebrated around the world. However, words should be spent on the cazzotti western. It was a revolutionary genre for the time, replacing the irony of the spaghetti western with slapstick. Weapons are almost entirely substituted by fists, duels by comical tussles and fights. It is the same revolution that Gianni and Pinotto brought to swashbuckler films, which this genre ultimately derives from.
The success of the Trinity and Bambino saga was consecrated with the sequel to They Call Me TrinityTrinity is still my name, partly shot in Molise. The opening scene when first Bambino, then Trinity, rob a gang of outlaws of their horses and pan of beans is memorable. Beans in cazzotti westerns are the equivalent of Popeye’s spinach or Bugs Bunny’s carrot, an element that not only moves the story forward but describes and qualifies the character.
At the time children were going crazy for chicken drumsticks which, thanks to new etiquette, were strictly eaten without cutlery, for pizza which reached its mass heights in those years and also for bitter, iron-rich spinach to become as strong as Popeye and beans in emulation of Bud Spencer and Terence Hill.
Molise is a region with a wide variety of excellent indigenous beans, in particular, Riccia beans which grow in the municipality of that name in the province of Campobasso and the beans known as Molise. Both white beans have thin skins and thanks to quick cooking times are often used in succulent dishes, the pride of Molise, such as u pastonelaganiell e fasciuolsagne e fagioli.

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Brief history of the cuisine of Molise

Although Molise only became an autonomous region in 1963, the people of the area have always carefully guarded their recipes and the most ancient of their culinary traditions. The strengths of this cuisine can certainly be found in the simplicity of the dishes, their strong flavours and tastes and the authenticity of their ingredients.
There are various suggestions about the etymology of Molise, two are particularly popular: the first hypothesizes that the name derives from the Norman family of Molisius who dominated the county of Boiano from 11th to 13th century; the second, Gasdia’s hypothesis (1960) supported by other researchers, recalls the words of Francesco D’Ovidio: “Molise is a word that indicates the plural of molisana, derived from mola or molinum, similar to the Latin molenses which describes the residents or places near a mill, or the mill wheels or grinding stone (petrae or lapides molenses)”.
Although the latter theory is not universally accepted, the presence of polenta in many regional dishes of Molise, the only area in Southern Italy where it features so heavily, and the massive production of pasta, both fresh and dried, suggests that the idea has some foundation.
Molise can trace the regional use of herbs to the Normans, in addition to methods for cooking fish in the coastal areas and probably also dishes like spit-roasted mutton with herbs, today known as pecora alla brigante. The culinary traditions of Molise, however, date to well before the Norman domination as the people of Molise are descendants of the Sannites, who fought, and repelled, the Romans repeatedly.
It is an agricultural and pastoral tradition with recipes like torcinelli, rolls with lamb intestine stuffed with hard-boiled egg, entrails and liver and pampanella, bacon and chili flakes, dried then cooked in a pan with wine, used to flavour tomato sauce. These dishes are very easy to prepare with strong flavours and authentic ingredients. Along the coastline, the culinary tradition of the fishermen features a strong use of herbs.

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Sagne e fagioli

Sagne e fagioli is a dish typical of the area of Isernia, made with beans from the area, white, round beans also known as mmurecane or tabacco, and sagne or sagnette, words deriving from lasagnette, pasta shapes that are 3cm long, 5mm wide made from flour and water.


  • 400 g beans (mmurecane or tabacco)
  • 2 sticks of white celery (Boiano or Acquaviva Collecroce)
  • 1 onion from Isernia
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 chilli pepper extra virgin olive oil from Molise
  • bay leaf and rosemary

For the vegetable stock

  • 2 sticks of white celery (Boiano or Acquaviva Collecroce)
  • 1 onion from Isernia
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 fennel bulb (Boiano or Acquaviva Collecroce)
  • 1 l. water

For the pasta

  • 400 g flour
  • water

Soak the beans for 12 hours, then boil in water until cooked. Make a crater with the flour, pour in water and make dough. Roll out the dough thinly. Mark and cut strips 5 mm wide and 3 cm long. Allow to sit for 30 minutes while preparing the vegetable stock with water, celery, onion, carrot and fennel. Fry chopped celery and onion in a pan with oil, garlic, bay and rosemary. When softened, add the beans and stir well, remove the garlic, add the vegetable broth and boil, add the pasta and stir. Serve hot.

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Molise is Still My Name (1971) - © CG Entertainment

Trinity: Recipe to make your own trailer on beans and food in Molise

This game is for anyone who wants to make a homemade trailer for Molise is Still My Name. We’re providing the time codes for the film clips. Any edit program will work for this. Input the following data into the timeline and you’ll have your trailer in minutes.

  • Download the film titles for Molise is Still My Name
  • attach to sequence from 00.27.12 to 01.00
  • attach to sequence from 01.12 to 01.59
  • attach to sequence from 02.20 to 05.19
  • add the end title card “End”
  • enjoy it in company, and if you haven’t yet seen the films, watch them.

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