Strong, but kind. Calabria goes from the strong tastes of the soppressata and of the processed meats, intensified by the “hot” taste of the chili peppers and the sweetness of the white figs. A cuisine, which well describes the personality of our land, divided by harshness and sweetness. It is not by chance that we say “we are what we eat”. Excellent raw materials, cooked in a simple way: this is the perfect duo of a countryside and sea food tradition, which has an authentic scent. The dishes, which decorate the tables of our villages and rejoice our tummies describe the deep relations with the past: Grandma’s recipes, a precious heritage, made of small gestures and a great load of passion, are passed on from one generation to the other. Now open your eyes and start tasting…
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A good meal starts with appetizers. To whet the appetite of our guests there is a variety of processed meats, produced by the one animal, which is called the “King of Calabria cuisine”: the pig. As a matter of fact, there is a saying that recites: “A maru chi lu porco non ammazza”, unfortunate is he who does not have any pigs to slaughter. Among the products of His Majesty, there is the PDO Soppressata of Calabria, a processed meat with protected designation of origin with an intense taste, available in 3 versions: white, spicy and sweet. Those who love spicy food will go head over heels also for the famous ‘Nduja PAT, a sausage containing pig giblets, with a very soft texture and bright red colour, just as the one of chili peppers, another 100% Calabria product. Spread over a slice of homemade hot bread (maybe cooked in a brick oven) and along with a glass of local red wine, it takes on an incomparable charm, or better to say, flavour. But, it is always advised to take it easy with spicy food if you are not used to it! Cheese lovers are also satisfied owing to the endless variety of pecorino cheese, caciocavallo and provola cheese. Even the preserves are among the worthy appetizers: eggplants, artichokes, tomatoes and anchovies are prepared in oil and vinegar according to the most ancient traditions.
But, let’s get to the first course: a dish, worth mentioning, especially in Stilo, is the homemade pasta, made by using an iron stick according to tradition and seasoned with strong sauces, such as goat meat sauce or eggplant sauce.
Besides flavouring the sauces of the first course, beef, veal, pork and goat meat are skillfully prepared and they are available in a multitude of variants as energetic second courses. The side dishes are represented by several pearls of our fruit and vegetable production, coming from our hills, such as the famous PGI Tropea Onion, the eggplants, the tomatoes and the PGI Sila potatoes.
Last but not least, the endless preparations with figs. Among these, the crocette stand out: they are dried figs, twisted one with the other in the shape of a cross, full of walnuts and season citrus peels. Among the range of desserts, there are also the zeppole, the cuzzupe (Easter tradition dessert) and the sweet pignolata, a symbol of prosperity, coated with honey and flavoured with different fragrances.
Unusual experiences and fun facts
Walking in the maze of alleys of our villages, you will be captivated by the smell of food, which spreads out from the windows of the houses. Here, following tradition dictates, passed on from one generation to the other, the generous fruits, which the land offers, are processed. At lunchtime, families and friends, gathered by a great sense of community, meet in the dining room or in the catoj to share joyful moments and traditional dishes. Each Village of the Angels has one or more signature dish, able to bewitch those who taste it, even only once.
Let’s discover some of them.
If you are visiting Sant’Andrea Apostolo dello Ionio, you cannot leave without delighting your palate with the fiscottino Recognised as a Slowfood presidium, it is a crunchy donut, flavoured with fragrant fennel seeds and usually accompanied with homemade liquors. Once, the fiscottino was served during the celebrations preceding a wedding, when the family of the bride-to-be showed her dowry and invited the parents of the groom-to-be. Nowadays, although this tradition is no longer applied, it still remains a dish for celebrations.
If you pass by Badolato, stop and taste the homemade wine in the catoj, the humid cellars where the nectar of the gods is kept. A glass of red wine, accompanied by fava beans, just harvested, and local pecorino cheeses, will make you plunge into the culture of Badolato, where welcoming is one of its major specialties.
Just south, there is Santa Caterina dello Ionio, where we suggest you taste the PGI Clementines of Calabria, which colour the nearby citrus groves and confer their scent to desserts, jams and syrups. Here, in autumn, you can taste an excellent young wine, accompanied by the frittole, pork meat, cooked in a giant pot, just as tradition.
In Guardavalle, the typical dish of the village is, instead, “pasta ‘e casa con carna e crapa”, a tasteful homemade pasta seasoned with goat meat sauce. Here, just as in many towns of Calabria, moreover, at Easter time, you can taste the typical traditional sweets: the cuzzupe. This dessert of Oriental origin consists in a sweet bread, which wraps an egg, symbol of Resurrection.
If you happen to be near Monasterace, instead, do not miss the desserts and liquors, flavoured with bergamot, a rare citrus fruit, which produces a very valuable essential oil. Another dish worth mentioning consists in the zeppole with anchovies or with the ‘Nduja, two strong flavours which bear witness of the successful combination between sea and mountains.
A good moment to taste the typical traditional dishes of Stilo is, instead, the Palio of Ribusa, an authentic and spectacular Renaissance festival. Among the streets of the village, you can breathe XVII century air, scented with the abundance of traditional dishes.
Last, but not least, the centrepiece of San Floro: the cullurielli. A fried dessert from the traditions of Cosenza, which is eaten on Christmas Eve and the day before Immacolata . If, then, you want to get to know the salty side too, do not miss the pasta, made with Senatore Cappelli wheat, seasoned with highly scented wild fennel.
The best period
The lucky combination of our land, located in between the sea and the mountains, allows us to enjoy its fruits all year round. Each period has its own specialties and we love following the seasonal nature of the products, so to enjoy the best way possible their endless properties.
If autumn, as we know, is the perfect moment to appreciate wine along with processed meats, cheeses and homemade preserves, the cold winter encourages us to meet in the dining room to taste meat and more energetic and thick first courses. In spring, when field production is at its climax, it is possible to harvest its fruits, which will then be turned into succulent delicacies, such as the Easter traditional desserts. Summer is the perfect period to appreciate the sea and seasonal fruits, eggplants and peppers.
Each dish has its moment, but remember: it is always a good moment to come and visit Calabria!
La Calabria da visitare tutto l’anno
Naviga la mappa e scopri il nostro territorio
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