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The culinary wonders of italy's calabria

Tropea peninsula at sunset
© boole2 ()

Calabria is a region very much separate from the rest of Italy. It is naturally divided from the rest of the country by the Pollino Mountains and surrounded by seas on the east, west and south. It is a wild and rugged region, with lots of villages along the sea coasts, and sparsely populated in the mountainous areas towards the centre of the region.

Calabria is a poor country, and people do not have the money to import goods from the north. The mountains have always made farming difficult, but the locals have learned to adapt. Fresh fish is the most common item on every menu in Calabria, as there is plenty of that to catch in the surrounding seas. It is the other ingredients that are harder to come by for the locals. Therefore many generations have relied on preserved foods. Even sausages are preserved in oil, as are vegetables and fish. Because of the sunny weather, the local produce does include olives, citrus, greens and lemons. It is here that the famous limoncello comes from, and you will be sure to be offered a glass of this beautifully flavoured drink with every meal you take.

One of the most common cooking ingredients is peperoncino, a small red pepper with a lot of bite! This is used to spice up pasta’s and meat dishes, and every Calabrian has these peppers in his or her kitchen. But they do not over spice their food. Calabrians follow the traditional recipes, and frown upon people experimenting with these dishes. It means the variety in Calabria may not be as broad as the culinary styles from the northern towns, but they do know exactly how to make their signature dishes taste fantastic.

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