I·ATE Food Term of The Week: Patate Cunzate

Patate cunzate

If there is proof that cultural mixing is always a good idea, try patate cunzate from Cilento and you’ll understand why.

Although this dish is popular around various regions of Southern Italy, it is an institution in Cilento, the southernmost area of Campania, which borders the neighbouring region of Basilicata. On this territory, the cultural contact between the two regions has shaped the local dialect and customs – with people living the old way in villages where farming is still the main activity – and especially the local food traditions.

The origins of patate cunzate are lost in time, but it is safe to assume that it is one of the many poor dishes that shepherds and farmers created to make the most of simple, yet delicious products.

It is a mix of potatoes from the Cilento mountains and crunchy peppers from Basilicata, usually called crusco peppers.

First, potatoes are boiled and cut into large cubes; then, dried peppers are fried for a few seconds.

Finally, the crunchy pepper crumbles are added to the slightly mashed potatoes and stir-fried for a perfectly balanced taste.

As a matter of fact, the name indicates that the potatoes are seasoned with the peppers, as the verb conzare (also conciare) suggests. This regional verb, corresponding to the Italian condire, literally means “to season”, and it is used throughout Southern Italy with this sense; however, it may have other meanings, such as “to set the table” or “to get dressed”. As for patate cunzate, other versions are popular, for example in Sicily, where they are made with olives, capers, and vinegar – a typical Sicilian way of dressing food.

But patate cunzate from Cilento are unique: served hot from the pot, they are perfect with a slice of local cheese and a glass of homemade red wine.

The small village of San Gregorio Magno (70 km from the province city of Salerno), in particular, is one of the best places where to eat this delicacy: during the annual wine festival, you can visit the natural stone cellars, eat patate cunzate as a street food, and get a taste of Cilento’s renowned hospitality.


Mestieri e Sapori. 2022. Patate cunzate, sapori netti del profondo Sud – Mestieri e Sapori. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.mestieriesapori.com/patate-cunzate-sapori-netti-profondo-sud/. [Accessed 24 March 2022].

Assaggi di mondo. 2022. “Patàne cunzàte”, ” ovvero…patate condite. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.assaggidimondo.it/patane-cunzate-ovvero-patate-condite/. [Accessed 24 March 2022].

LA SCOPERTA DELLE PATANE CUNZATE DI SAN GREGORIO MAGNO. 2022. LA SCOPERTA DELLE PATANE CUNZATE DI SAN GREGORIO MAGNO. [ONLINE] Available at: https://oresteracconti.blogspot.com/2020/11/la-scoperta-delle-patane-cunzate-di-san.html. [Accessed 24 March 2022].

SICILIANET.NET. 2022. Ricetta Tradizionale di Montalbano: Patate “CUNZATE” – MAGAZINE enogastronomia siciliana, Ricette Siciliane e tanto altro – Il Magazine sul Made in Sicily. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.sicilianet.net/blog/?ricetta-tradizionale-di-montalbano–patate–cunzate-. [Accessed 24 March 2022].

Conzare (gli innumerevoli utilizzi). 2022. Conzare (gli innumerevoli utilizzi). [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.siculopedia.it/definizioni/item/336-conzare-gli-innumerevoli-utilizzi.html. [Accessed 24 March 2022].

Written by Marina Niceforo

PhD in “European Languages and Specialised Terminology” (University of Naples “Parthenope”)