The Ital­ian prov­ince, a jewel of the Mediter­ranean, is a place whose his­tory comes from the ta­ble, from the fla­vors that are not sim­ply from south­ern Italy, but Cal­abrian.

All About Italy (USA) - - Editorial - Elisa Rodi

Cal­abria is a land of a thou­sand faces, di­verse and con­trast­ing, which guide the traveler through nat­u­ral and mighty splen­dors. There are places in Cal­abria to lis­ten with your eyes and con­tem­plate with your palate.

The sea and the moun­tains al­ter­nate in a vi­brant man­ner and leave one amazed at how in a short time one can move from be­ing in a sea breeze to be­ing in the shade of cen­turies-old pines that al­most form a nat­u­ral tunnel down the long paths. Climb­ing up the moun­tains and de­scend­ing along the coasts is an en­chant­ing ex­cur­sion, where one is guided by the land­scapes but also by those piv­otal and un­mis­tak­able fla­vors that have made Cal­abria an ac­claimed re­gion. The par­tic­u­lar­i­ties and mer­its of this land do noth­ing but have a pos­i­tive im­pact on Ital­ian food cul­ture, pro­mot­ing a bal­anced lifestyle based on the prin­ci­ples of the Mediter­ranean diet, made of sim­ple, un­pro­cessed or slightly pro­cessed foods. It is no co­in­ci­dence that in­ter­na­tional stud­ies have shown that the Mediter­ranean diet is prac­ticed most closely in Cal­abria. The small town of Ni­cotera, in the prov­ince of Vibo Valen­tia is an ex­am­ple of the ex­cep­tional health of its in­hab­i­tants. Cal­abria of­fers a culi­nary jour­ney that en­hances the essence of its places. The fla­vors have a strong in­di­vid­u­al­ity and an in­her­i­tance of tra­di­tion, a bas­ket of in­gre­di­ents that now pop­u­late in­ter­na­tional cui­sine.


A sym­bol of Cal­abria and in­ter­na­tion­ally known, the red onion of Tropea gives per­son­al­ity to any cui­sine, not just Cal­abrian. Pro­moted, pro­tected and val­ued by chefs from all over the world, the Tropea onion has an un­mis­tak­able taste, what­ever way it is used. Whether raw, to en­hance sal­ads, or cooked, for first or sec­ond cour­ses or even for tarts and jam. Rec­og­nized for its organolep­tic prop­er­ties, the “Tro­peana” is an onion char­ac­ter­ized by a sweet and refined taste, en­joy­able on the palate also for the crunch­i­ness that ac­com­pa­nies it. To fully ap­pre­ci­ate the fla­vor of the onion and learn the many ways to use it, just visit Cal­abria in Au­gust, the pe­riod in which the Tro­peana onion fes­ti­val is held, which has been hosted in the square of Ri­cadi, a vil­lage near Tropea since 1978. The fla­vors of the area re­flect the beauty of the place. Tropea is top tourist lo­ca­tion in Cal­abria. It has a beau­ti­ful sea­side and a charm­ing his­toric cen­ter, that im­parts a unique and time­less at­mos­phere. Pearl of the Tyrrhe­nian Sea, Tropea’s sym­bol is also the rock of S. Maria dell’isola which has stood as guardian of the city for al­most a thou­sand years.

CAL­ABRIAN CHILI PEPPERS Peper­on­cino Cal­abrese

If there is one in­gre­di­ent that sym­bol­izes the iden­tity of Cal­abria, well, this is un­doubt­edly the chili pep­per, pro­duced by its in­ci­sive char­ac­ter and sym­bol of the lo­cal food cul­ture. The red Cal­abrian pep­per is the spice that an­i­mates and col­ors any dish, fla­vor­ing foods and re­leas­ing taste that is both aro­matic and spicy. Gar­den-fresh, in oil or in pow­der form, its ad­van­tage lies in its abil­ity to combine with any dish and not over­whelm fla­vors but, on the con­trary, to en­hance them. If the com­bi­na­tion with salty foods is nat­u­ral, the com­bi­na­tion in a dessert is bold as it is in­trigu­ing. Dosed with chocolate or used in jams and pre­serves, Cal­abrian peppers drive the taste of sweet­ness for­ward giv­ing it a new nu­ance that does not can­cel but com­pletes the fla­vor. Septem­ber is the month in which Cal­abria cel­e­brates this in­gre­di­ent with the Peper­on­cino Fes­ti­val. The gas­tro­nomic fair, in the prov­ince of Cosenza, ig­nites the town of Dia­mante ev­ery year for five days - in a unique event, be­tween gas­tron­omy and cul­ture, in­spired by the con­cept of “spicy “. Once here, you have the op­por­tu­nity to en­joy long and warm beaches, where the crys­tal-clear sea makes Dia­mante and its sur­round­ings one of the most sought-af­ter Cal­abrian tourist des­ti­na­tions, as well as be­ing known as the “City of Mu­rals”. Walk­ing through the streets of Dia­mante, and of the nearby town Cirella, you can ad­mire over 200 works by in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned street artists, and then come across the ru­ins of An­cient

Cer­il­lae: the Teatro dei Rud­eri, the Ro­man Mau­soleum and the Con­vent of the Min­ims.

‘NDUJA FROM SPILINGA ‘Nduja di Spilinga

Even a food­stuff that is born as a poor or com­mon one, can also be­come an in­gre­di­ent of many good cuisines, even gourmet. The ‘nduja has fol­lowed this path a lit­tle. Its ori­gin is linked to the Cal­abrian peas­ant so­ci­ety and the need to use ev­ery part of the pig, but to­day it is a prod­uct that finds am­ple space in recipes of Ital­ian cui­sine and beyond. Its name has transalpin­e ori­gins and de­rives from “an­douille”, a French sausage made with pork tripe, and which seems to have been pro­moted by Mu­rat to the Neapoli­tan Laz­zari (the poor­est of the lower class in the city). Rec­og­niz­able for its red color, ‘nduja is a soft and spicy salami pro­duced es­pe­cially in the ter­ri­tory of Vibo Valen­tia, mainly in the area of Spilinga. Its pro­duc­tion now ex­tends through­out the re­gion, fully re­spect­ing the orig­i­nal­ity of the raw ma­te­ri­als and man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses. Spread on toasted bread it is per­fect, but if used as a condi­ment for pasta or pizza, it can add an ex­tra touch of taste. It is also pre­ferred in to­mato sauce and can also ex­cite on slices of semi-ma­ture cheeses.

BERG­AMOT OF REG­GIO CAL­ABRIA PDO Berg­amotto di Reg­gio Cal­abria DOP

This is the “green gold” of Cal­abria, pride of the area and known world­wide. The berg­amot grows only in the south­ern coast of the Io­nian Sea, in par­tic­u­lar along the coastal strip be­tween Villa San Gio­vanni and Stilo. In fact, al­most all of the world pro­duc­tion of the prized cit­rus fruit is con­cen­trated here, thanks to the soil qual­ity and ideal tem­per­a­ture for its growth. The essence of berg­amot en­hances sweets, liqueurs, drinks, but also the fra­grance of some of the best per­fumes in the world. Rec­og­nized for its essence, but also for its ben­e­fi­cial prop­er­ties, berg­amot re­leases its scent along the coast that runs down to Reg­gio Cal­abria. As you fol­low the scent you come across splen­did panora­mas, in­ter­changed with sandy beaches with stretches of rock, dot­ted with wrap-arounds in­lets. This is also the coast of the ar­chae­o­log­i­cal sites of Punta Stilo and Monaster­ace and of the his­tor­i­cal manuscript­s of Magna

Grae­cia, which are col­lected in the Na­tional Mu­seum of Reg­gio

Cal­abria, and also home of the majestic Ri­ace Bronzes.

CA­CIO­CAV­ALLO SILANO PDO Ca­cio­cav­allo Silano DOP

It is called “Silano” be­cause its name and ori­gin de­rive from the an­cient pro­duc­tion cus­toms on the Sila plateau. It is des­ig­nated PDO since it is one of the most fa­mous cheeses of South Italy and among the most ap­pre­ci­ated. It is an­cient, so much so that Hip­pocrates men­tioned its pro­duc­tion in 500 BC. Ca­cio­cav­allo Silano PDO is rec­og­niz­able by its smooth, thin, straw-col­ored rind that sur­rounds a spun paste. De­pend­ing on the ren­net used and its fi­nal ag­ing its fla­vor is ei­ther sweet or spicy. On its own or used as sea­son­ing, Ca­cio­cav­allo en­riches ev­ery dish it’s used in. It is ex­cel­lent melted, cooked on the grill or in a pan, but even if it is melted in the dishes to get that touch as well as fla­vor. En­joy­ing it among the Sila moun­tains of­fers a unique ex­pe­ri­ence, sur­rounded by a nat­u­ral her­itage en­riched by di­verse land­scapes. The wealth of an­i­mal species and flora pop­u­late the Sila Na­tional Park, guardian of the trea­sures and un­spoiled area.

SILA POTATO PGI Patata della Sila IGP

Crossing the Sila moun­tains, your eyes will be drawn to the fields that paint the land­scape. The land is dot­ted with the pre­cious tu­bers from Sila, an­other prod­uct that dis­tin­guishes Cal­abria. In the Sila Plateau the na­ture of the soil and the cli­matic fea­tures al­low for year-round tuber growth and optimal plant mat­u­ra­tion, which make the prod­uct per­fect for culi­nary re­quire­ments. Fry­ing is un­doubt­edly the most pop­u­lar way to prepare them, since Sila pota­toes have a com­pact pulp rich in starch which guar­an­tees a crispi­ness. How much the Sila PGI potato is strongly rooted in the ter­ri­tory can also be seen from its wide use in nu­mer­ous recipes of the Cal­abrian gas­tro­nomic tra­di­tion, from sim­ple pasta and pota­toes to tasty com­bi­na­tions with other typ­i­cal in­gre­di­ents, such as porcini mush­rooms.

CITRON OF CAL­ABRIA Ce­dro di Cal­abria

More than a fruit, it is some­times con­sid­ered a master­piece of na­ture, so much so that the Jew­ish tra­di­tion con­sid­ers it heav­enly be­cause in the Bi­ble it is de­scribed as the fruit of the most beau­ti­ful tree. Cedar is a cit­rus fruit that has be­come sym­bolic of Cal­abria. “Riviera dei Cedri” (Citron Riviera) they call it, that por­tion of the Tyrrhe­nian coast that goes from Praia a Mare to Aman­tea, and also in­cludes part of the moun­tain that over­looks it. It is so called be­cause it is rich in cit­rus trees. The best va­ri­ety grows along the coast, and in Santa Maria del Ce­dro, the best va­ri­ety grows, the “Dia­mante smooth citron”. It is spher­i­cal in shape, inim­itable in the scent that its thick rough skin em­anates. Pre­cisely be­cause of its essence, in the kitchen it finds a lot of space, in par­tic­u­lar for mak­ing desserts, jams and pre­serves, but also to ac­com­pany meat or fish dishes. The “Riviera dei Cedri” be­gins its stretch with a cor­ner of par­adise, San Ni­cola Ar­cella, with an in­cred­i­ble beach of Arco Magno, that starts at an open­ing in the rock and an over­hang pro­tects the small beach.


It is one of the typ­i­cal sweets of the Cal­abrian tra­di­tion, with a skill­ful and del­i­cate pro­cess­ing. Its dough is com­posed of sugar, toasted al­monds, honey, egg white, bit­ter co­coa, es­sen­tial oils and pow­dered spices. Its then cov­ered in gran­u­lated sugar or bit­ter co­coa. Crumbly and crunchy at first bite thanks to the spot-on roast­ing of the al­monds. Torrone’s (Ital­ian nougat) spe­cial­ness lies in the skill­ful crafts­man­ship and ex­pe­ri­ence of gen­er­a­tions of the torrone mak­ers of Bagnara Cal­abra, in south of Cal­abria, who have handed down the phases of pro­duc­tion since 1800. Bagnara Cal­abra is also a land of his­tory and cul­ture, where you’ll find the Aragonese Tower, the Church of Maria SS. del Monte Carmelo, built in 1880, and the Ducal Cas­tle.


It is in the Valle del Crati, in the Cosentino area, that the figs of the Dot­tato va­ri­ety have found their ideal habi­tat. The Cosenza figs PDO are dried figs. They have a soft pulp, and are usu­ally dried us­ing the tra­di­tional method, i.e. in di­rect sun on reed sup­ports, or even in an oven. This prepa­ra­tion en­sures that the heat can elim­i­nate the hu­mid­ity in­side the fruit and ob­tain a prod­uct that can be stored for the rest of the year. With a sweet honey fla­vor, they are rec­og­niz­able by a yellow-green­ish skin and an am­ber pulp. Suit­able for the prepa­ra­tion of jams, var­i­ous types of honey and sweets, they also lend them­selves well to sal­ads and are par­tic­u­larly tasty cov­ered with chocolate. Among the old­est recipes of the Cal­abrian tra­di­tion is that of the “cro­cette”, in which the figs are placed in the form of a cross - hence the name - and stuffed with nuts or other dried fruit. In Cosenza the Bilotti Open-air Mu­seum stands out, which since 2006 has been set up along the main street of the city and where mas­ter­pieces by mod­ern and con­tem­po­rary art is for sale. Works by Dalì, De Chirico and Modigliani en­rich the out­door gallery through­out the city.

LICORICE OF CAL­ABRIA PDO Liqu­i­rizia di Cal­abria DOP

To say that licorice grow­ing in Cal­abria is con­sid­ered the best in the world is not an ex­ag­ger­a­tion. The ra­tio­nale un­doubt­edly lies in the taste, a par­tic­u­larly bal­anced taste. The Cal­abrian licorice leaves bit­ter­ness aside to re­store a fla­vor of char­ac­ter with sweet notes. It is some­how the black gold of the Cal­abrese ter­ri­tory, be­cause it is here that 80% of na­tional licorice is pro­duced ex­ported in ev­ery con­ti­nent. Luck of the place, licorice is dif­fi­cult to im­i­tate be­cause it is strongly linked to the min­eral char­ac­ter­is­tics of the ter­ri­tory that led to its de­vel­op­ment. It is no co­in­ci­dence that it is a prod­uct that most try to im­i­tate with­out suc­cess. To date, the Cal­abrian licorice enjoys a ver­sa­til­ity that has al­lowed it to combine the aroma with other foods, from pasta to liqueurs, from creams to pow­der.

LEMON OF ROCCA IM­PE­RI­ALE PGI Li­mone di Rocca Im­pe­ri­ale IGP

It is known as “An­tico” lemon or “Nos­trano di Rocca Im­pe­ri­ale” and for 5 cen­turies it has spread its fra­grance around the heart of Cal­abria. The name “Li­mone di Rocca Im­pe­ri­ale” was born in the early 2000s, when lo­cal farm­ers came to­gether in a con­sor­tium to pro­tect the yellow cit­rus, so pure and with a pow­er­ful fla­vor that it earned the IGP cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. The merit is also in the cul­ti­va­tion area, char­ac­ter­ized by ad­e­quate rain­fall, good soil qual­ity and the availabili­ty of aquifers, which make the area ex­tremely pros­per­ous. With an in­tense yellow, en­velop­ing aroma and strong taste, the Rocca Im­pe­ri­ale Lemon PGI is par­tic­u­larly rec­og­nized and ap­pre­ci­ated for the bal­ance of its acid­ity which makes the cit­rus pleas­ant, even to be eaten sliced.

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