FOOD TOUR: CALABRIA, THE “TOE OF ITALY’S BOOT”
This month, our food tour takes us to Calabria, the toe of Italy’s boot. In this region, the nature is amazing, and the food is even better.
It’s difficult to say whether Calabria is best known for its beautiful beaches, its mountains, or for its native “peperoncino.” Whichever you prefer, you should visit this historic region in southern Italy. Before we get to food, let’s talk about the rich history and beautiful natural qualities that make Calabria so special. As everybody knows, Calabria is separated from Sicily by the Strait of Messina. During the summer, tourists and locals alike can enjoy the beaches of both the Ionian and the Tyrrhenian Sea. But there is even more to be explored: Calabria flaunts mountains as well as three spectacular national parks (Aspromonte, Pollino, and Sila).
CALABRIA, THE SPICIEST REGION IN ITALY
The first thing that comes to mind when we think of Calabrian cuisine is spice. Calabrians love spicy food, and their native “peperoncino” is hard to find elsewhere. Calabrian cuisine is considered to be “poor” and “simple,” as it is made with few ingredients and strong flavors. It includes both meat and seafood, as well as a multitude of preserved vegetables. The region’s mountainous areas produce both delicious cheeses and significant quantities of olive oil.
TROPEA… SHE WILL MAKE YOU CRY
Let’s start with Tropea. This magical town in southern Calabria is famous for its many beaches and stunning views. Tropea flaunts a darling historic center wth plenty of restaurants. The town is home to the famous cipolla rossa di Tropea, a type of red onion that flavors almost every Calabrian dish. The Tropea onion is sweeter and less harsh than any typical onion, and can be used in season salads, pastas, sauces, or meat preparations. Cipolla rossa di Tropea encompasses three sub-types of onions: the cipollotto, which is sweet and soft, cipolla fresca, more red and harvested in April, and cipolla da serbo, onions that have been left to ripen longer than usual.
SPILINGA’S NDUJA IS THE SPICE OF LIFE
While Spilinga, a small town in the province of Vibo Valentia, may not be well known to tourists, it is definitely worth visiting. This secluded village flaunts Calabria’s most famous ingredient: Nduja! For the people of Calabria, there is nothing better than this spicy cured sausage. The spice, however, is certainly not for the faint of heart: if you’re not used to spicy foods, it is probably best to avoid this Calabrese delicacy.
- Donatella Mulvoni