The New York Times had already thought of including Calabria among the must-see destinations in Italy. And he did it with purely gastronomic reasons. In fact, if this region really begins to make itself felt today, we must thank all the various producers of excellence, as well as the great chefs such as Gaetano Alia, who for years with his Locanda has been working for the enhancement of the territory; or Giuseppe Romano, which, although of Campania origins, has made this land its own, as demonstrated by organizing the huge event for its Me Restaurant Tasting Calabria, where some protagonists of this region have had the opportunity to meet and reflect on the immense heritage of which they are called to speak.
Northern Calabria: chilli, zafarana and lavender
We usually think that we eat spicy all over Calabria. Instead, it's not like that at all. The area where more chilli is eaten and produced is in particular the one to the north, on the coast, or from Diamante (where the biggest party in his honor also takes place in September), up to the province of Vibo Valentia where it is used for the production of 'nduja. In the inner part, above all in the municipality of Tortora, the zafarana is produced, a sweet pepper, similar to the crust of Senise, excellent both in powder and fried in a pan (with cod). And then always in the northern part of the region there is part of the green lung of Europe, or the Pollino National Park, where lavender is produced in large quantities, giving rise to a marvelous spectacle of long, open lilac stretches.
Arbëreshë Community: Shëtridhlat, Dromsa, Collivi, Panaghie, Picetulit and Pane di Cerchiara
Moving on the Ionian side, it pleasantly stumbles between the arbëreshë communities, or countries where they emigrated from the then Arberia, or Albania around the 1400s and settled in municipalities such as Lungro, Civita, Spezzano. Here some traditional aspects are anything but dormant: the arbëreshë culture is still very strong and present, especially from the gastronomic point of view, as can be seen in unique dishes such as dromsa or dromesat, or pasta crumbs; or Shetridhlat, a dough that is continuously worked by a group of women, forming a circle that does not break until it is cooked, then seasoned with legumes; or even Collivi, Panaghie and Picetulit, that is, wheat cooked with spices and cocoa and human-shaped sandwiches prepared in commemoration of the dead, one of the most important festivals there is. Also in this area, the Cerchiara bread is also produced, among the best good long leavened loaves, prepared by local bakeries with the ancient natural yeast.
La Piana di Sibari: rice, oil and clementines
The Piana di Sibari is such a beautiful place that it seems like a dream. Walk around the Agriturismo Casacchella among the centuries-old olive trees, from which one of the best oils in Italy is made, up to the clementine trees, which give sweet and delicious fruits, today IGP. And then in Sibari it is produced a rice that according to some is the best Italian, a carnaroli grown on about six hundred hectares of brackish soil, flooded by the Raganello river when it descends from Pollino.
The Crotonese: Finocchio d’Oro, Pecorino DOP and Pane di Cutro
In those five thousand hectares of Ionic band that go from Strongoli to Botricello, in the area of Isola di Capo Rizzuto, a special fennel has been produced for at least 160 years, without filaments and with a very persistent aroma. Sold all over the world, it is called "gold" because it represents an important economic resource for the territory, a real mine. In the last ten years, especially thanks to the work of the Organizing Committee and its President Aldo Luciano, they are trying to enhance it a lot in the kitchen too, collaborating with some chefs like Natale Pallone of the Ruris restaurant in Isola di Capo Rizzuto, which prepares it au gratin, combined with Cutro Bread and mixed with Pecorino Crotonese DOP, two other great uniqueness of the area. And you think this dish was also noticed, mentioned and appreciated by the New York Times.
Catanzaro: morsello or morzello alla Catanzarese and pitta
Not very summery and tendentially for strong stomachs, "u morzeddhu cu a pitta”Is a very ancient dish, widespread in the province of Catanzaro. It is prepared with entrails, tripe and fifth quarter which are first cut into strips and then fried with oil, bacon, onion, chilli pepper, tomato paste, red wine and oregano. It is usually paired with pitta, a typical Catanzaro bread with little crumb and a shape similar to a flattened donut, which is often used together with other dishes.
A unique triangle: ‘nduja, onion, pecorino, beans, truffle, tuna and fileja
Although it may have spread within and beyond regional boundaries, nduja is actually only from Spilinga. Here the oldest Calabrian festival that takes place every August 8 from 1975 takes place in his honor, also thanks to the fact that every family still raises and slaughters at least one pig. It must be said that Spilinga is located in a unique Calabria in terms of production: near Nicotera, the reference city for the Mediterranean Diet; in Tropea and its red onion, famous for its sweetness and digestibility; to Monte Poro, to his pecorino e “a sujaca nta pignata", Or beans cooked in the crock of Caria (from which a beautiful festival). But it does not end here: the nearby Pizzo is noteworthy both for its historic tuna fishing; both for the sweet truffle, or the ice cream that is served in all the bars of the central square. Local pasta is the fileja, which is seasoned with all these products (beans, pecorino, tuna).
La Piana di Gioia Tauro and Rosarno: kiwi, citrus fruits and Struncatura
Here too, as in the Piana di Sibari, many citrus fruits are produced, including lemons and clementines, but also a large quantity of kiwis, of a quality clearly superior to those imported. The undisputed protagonist of the Piana cuisine is struncatura: a fresh pasta like fettuccelle alte, produced with bran, carob flour, rye and water, traditionally seasoned with anchovies, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and chilli pepper. The name comes from struncaturi, which in dialect indicates the scraps of flour and bran from the grain milling that remained on the ground, for this reason it was also forbidden for a period. To absolutely try the version of the "Struncatura De Gustibus" in Palmi.
The Stocco di Mammola
Stockfish with tomato, onion, capers, olives, chilli and potatoes is a must of Mammola, which is worth a visit for the MuSaBa. It is a unique art park in the world, with works of art and monuments of many colors, created by the artists Nik Spatari and Hiske Maas. Returning to the rapier, it seems that it has become the typical dish according to this legend: after a terrible earthquake, a Norwegian ship arrived loaded with stockfish, which the northern sailors decided to devolve to the country in difficulty. And from that moment on they never separated from this tradition.
Scilla and Reggio Calabria: not just fish
Both in Scilla and in Reggio Calabria there are two kitchens of the sea (to taste at the Taverna Kerkira in Bagnara Calabra), in particular with mussels and swordfish, which is historically caught in the nearby Strait of Messina. But not only in reality: the kitchen of Reggio also includes the consumption of meat, especially pork. On the occasion of the feast of the Madonna, the second week of September, frittole are prepared, or rather the pork is cooked in its fat for eight whole hours with all its parts, including innards, but it does not end here. Once cooked, on the bottom of the pan all the undefined waste remains, called the "curcuci”, Which are then stir-fried with a beaten egg.
In Aspromonte: maccaruni and cheeses, figs and bergamot
We at La Cucina Italiana have never hidden our love for Aspromonte, a spectacular land, where a true, authentic atmosphere still reigns, which has something original not only from Calabria, but from all over Italy. Here, in fact, some countries still talk about the ancient Greek and they prepare simple homemade pasta, with tomato sauce, like maccaruni (try them at Trattoria Nizia Paleo di Gallicianò). And for some time now, thanks to the work of some enlightened people, they are taking land away from construction and other things, to give them back to grazing and animals, with a renewed production of cheeses such as caciocavallo from Ciminà; and to crops such as figs and bergamot.
Finally, let's not forget that they are produced throughout the region excellent wines starting from local vines such as gaglioppo or magliocco.