Muschiska, which is also known as micischia or vicischia in Abruzzo, is a product that is historically linked to the migration of shepherds between the mountains and plains. In fact, sheep farming has played a very important role economically in some of the communities of Gargano and Abruzzo, leaving traces in their respective gastronomic traditions.
Along with milk and cheese, muschiska was a characteristic part of the diet of many shepherds. These are strips of dried sheep meat (goat or young veal is also used on rare occasions) which are obtained after removing the fat, deboning, salting and drying in the open air. Muschiska represents an ancient method of preserving meat that ensured migrating shepherds had a source of protein in their diets.
The preparation begins with the removal of the fat and deboning of the whole animal or pieces of meat. Subsequently the meat was opened, laid out and salted, then seasoned with chilli, salt, garlic and fennel seeds (in Abruzzo other aromatic herbs are used, such as rosemary). It is then left to dry for a further amount of time: the meat is hung in ventilated rooms or outdoors for about twenty days. Once dried, the meat was cut into strips which made it easier to transport and consume. In the past, strips of meat were hung with cotton thread and exposed to the sun.
Muschiska is eaten both cooked and raw and is part of the culinary tradition of the province of Foggia, especially in the villages of Rignano Garganico and Sannicandro Garganico, and some mountain areas of Abruzzo.
Since migratory pastoralism has now been largely abandoned, the production and consumption of muschiska has undergone a significant decline. It is virtually unknown to young people and today its production is limited to some small mountain towns in Abruzzo or in the villages of Rignano Garganico and Sannicandro Garganico (province of Foggia).
The research activities necessary for the reporting of this product in the Ark of Taste online catalogue were financed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, the General Directorate of the Tertiary Sector and Corporate Social Responsibility – notice n° 1/2018 “Slow Food in action: communities protagonists of change”, pursuant to Article 72 of the Tertiary Sector Code, referred to in Legislative Decree No. 117/2017.