Calabria is one region in Italy that has remained true to it's roots. Unlike other areas of the country where you come across throngs of tourists, much of Calabria seems to have been ignored by time. Driving along it's rough roads, it is not unusual to come a cross a donkey loaded down with firewood, or a shepherd leading his flock, lazily across a "highway".
Calabrian cuisine is primarily a diet of simple fresh pastas, homegrown vegetables cooked in a myriad of ways, and meats, particularly pork. Although pasta is important to all Italians, in Calabria it is treated with an almost reverence. Each city or town has it's own pasta specialties, from chewy fusilli, to various types of lasagne. Calabrians seem to know by instinct, the best sauce to pair with each pasta to create the most delicious dishes.
When it comes to meat, pork is particularly important, with every part of the pig being used. It is turned into sausages, made into hearty pasta sauces, or roasted whole over a spit. Black pepper and peperoncini are widely used as seasonings, explaining why Calabrian food is often described as "spicy".
Our Homemeade Lasagne, consists of layers of delicate egg noodles blanketing a rich tomato sauce. Spaghetti alle Vongole, the "white" version of pasta with clams, is also a popular dish commonly found in Calabria. Oricchiette con Cima, a simple pasta made with broccoli rabe, is typical of Calabrian cooking, using just tasty, sautéed greens mixed with pasta.
When it comes to meat, pork is particularly important, with every part of the pig being used. It is turned into sausages, made into hearty pasta sauces, or roasted whole over a spit. Black pepper and peperoncini are widely used as seasonings, explaining why Calabrian food is often described as "spicy". For a great recipe to make Calabrian style sausages, my Homemade Sausage recipe is a good choice. Roast Pork With Fennel, is another typical recipe one might find across Calabria.
The rich abundance of fresh seafood is another advantage to living in Calabria. Calabrians feel simplicity is important when preparing seafood, and often add very little to the dish to prevent masking the delicate flavor of the fish. Fish is often grilled whole as in my Grilled Whole Fish recipe, fried or roasted. Baccala, or dried cod is another important seafood staple that has been around since Roman times.
Despite the importance of the tomato, the eggplant can be considered the queen of Calabrian vegetables. Eggplants are grilled, fried, roasted or stuffed to name just a few methods of preparation. One of my favorite Eggplant recipes, obtained from a Calabrian friend is my recipe for Polpette di Melanzane (Eggplant Croquettes). A great way to preserve eggplant to enjoy it year round is this recipe for Melanzane Marinata (Marinated Eggplant).
Family life in Calabria centers around the dining table, where food is considered more of an expression of love and tradition than it is for simple nourishment. I hope you now have a better understanding of Calabrian cuisine, and that you'll try a few of these dishes when dining in our restaurant.
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