Photo Courtesy of www.mesali.org
In the local dialect of Irpinia, east of Naples in the region of Campania, mesali literally means "tablecloths," a sign of hospitality. It's also the name of a fantastic association of 10 area restaurants, all committed to native ingredients.
Traditions are individually interpreted; you might find new-wave cooking at one location and rustic dishes at another. Their motto is "gusto, prodotti, persone", to sum up the importance of their regional flavors, products and people. They're collaborating with Slow Food, serving presidium products from Campania like alici di menaica (special salted anchovies), colatura tradizionale di alici di Cetara (traditional run-off liquid produced by salted anchovies), and San Marzano tomatoes.
I wrote an introduction for the Mesali guidebook and was invited to the presentation in Avellino. Restaurateur members spoke about their restaurants, Irpinia, and the importance of organizing, not a strong point in Italy. A buffet followed, with dishes from all restaurants, tastings of wonderful (and unheard of by me!) regional products like bread from Montecalvo, Gesualdo, Ospedaletto, and Vallesaccarda, Sturno prosciutto, Baronia ricottine, and a selection of regional wines--standouts were from A Casa, Terradora, and Di Meo.