Calabria food and recipes

This is an excerpt from the book “Calabria” by Enrico Massetti.

Calabrian Peperoncino
Calabrian Peperoncino

In Calabria there are many kind of Salami, they pair very well with the local Wine. It’s all part of the best Italian Food.

Peperoncino, Cancariello, pipariellu, pipazzu, pipi vruscente: these are just some of the local names for peperoncino, the essential ingredient in the culinary heritage of Calabria food. Whether long or round, red, orange, yellow or green, fresh, dried, or crushed: it’s difficult to find a local specialty here that doesn’t contain chili pepper.

Initially from the Americas, chili pepper found its ideal habitat in Calabria, although it may seem a paradox that there is relatively little commercial cultivation of this crop here: everybody grows it at home, either in the garden or a pot, and everyone has a string of chili peppers hanging on a door or at a window.

The name melanzane alla parmigiana, or eggplant parmesan, sounds like this popular dish (eggplant that is fried, then baked in the oven with tomato and cheese) is a specialty of Parma. But it was invented in Calabria (and is a typical Calabria food as well as of much of the Italian south), where the eggplant has been the queen of vegetables for centuries.

Calabria’s dry climate, high temperatures, and nearly calcium-free soil are ideal for growing eggplants because they prevent a build-up of the fruit’s bitter juices and concentrate its sweet flavor. The name melanzana derives from the Latin malum insanum, which translates as “the fruit which makes one crazy”! Perhaps this is why until the late 19th century, the eggplant was viewed with high suspicion in central and northern Italy. Today, it is enjoyed throughout the country.

Most Italians consider breakfast to be a brioche and a steaming cappuccino, but the Calabrians insist on a cooked breakfast called murseddu. It consists of a ragu made from pig and calf’s liver that are cooked slowly in tomatoes, herbs and hot red pepper, and then stuffed in the local pitta bread.

Despite numerous attempts to export Calabria food production to other areas in Italy and the world, bergametto, or bergamot oranges, thrive only in Calabria. Bergamot oranges have a smooth, thin peel, an acidic flavor, and an intense scent. They look like an orange, but their color ranges from green to yellow, depending on how ripe they are. Their essential oil is used not only to flavor liqueurs, tea (such as Earl Grey), sweets and drinks, but also in perfumery and cosmetics.

Calabria Recipes

Typical food from Calabria includes:
Alalunga in agrodolce: tender young tuna cooked in sweet-sour sauce of onion and vinegar.
Mostica: baby anchovies preserved in olive oil, also known as “Calabrian caviar.”
Perciatelli e lumache: pasta tubes with snails in a piquant tomato-pepper sauce.


Calabria Recipes:

Typical food from Calabria includes:
Cannariculi – Christmas fritters made of flour and sweet cooked wine coated with honey.
Ciambotta – stew of eggplant, peppers, potatoes, onions, tomatoes eaten hot or cold.
Chinulille – sweet ravioli stuffed with chocolate, chestnuts, candied fruit and nougat and fried.
Licurdia – onion soup thickened with bread and grated pecorino and laced with hot pepper.
Millecosedde – vegetable soup whose ‘thousand things’ include cabbage, celery, mushrooms, fava beans,chickpeas and the similar but stronger flavored cicerchie.
Murseddu – pie of pork and veal liver with tomato and peppers.
Mursiellu – stew of tripe and pork innards cooked with tomato, peppers and wine.
Pesce spada alla bagnarese – swordfish in the style of Bagnara Calabra, roast in a casserole with olive oil, lemon, capers and chopped parsley.
Pitta chicculiata – a type of pizza with tomatoes, tuna, anchovies, black olives and capers.
Pomodori essicati – Sun-dried Tomatoes
Rigatoni alla pastora – pasta tubes with fresh ricotta, sausage and grated pecorino.
Sagna chine – festive lasagne laden with ground pork, peas, mozzarella, mushrooms, artichokes, sliced hard-boiled eggs and other seasonal ingredients.
Sarde a scapece – fried sardines rolled in bread crumbs and doused with a mixture of hot oil, vinegar, garlic and mint.
Stocafisso alla calabra – Stockfish Calabria style

This is an excerpt from the book “Calabria” by Enrico Massetti. Get the ebook for the complete content.