Discover the Finest Flavours of Italy’s Hidden Culinary Gem.
Surrounded by the striking azure waters of the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas, sun-drenched Calabria – the toe of Italy’s boot – boasts a rich cuisine much like its landscape: rustic, fragrant and full of flavour. Here, the people are fishermen, farmers, shepherds, salumi makers, foragers of wild greens and mushrooms, pasta makers, vintners and, of course, cooks. Although a few of the region’s prized items, such as the extra-sweet red onion of Tropea – celebrated with its own festival every August – require a trip to Italy to enjoy, there are many other ingredients you can find right here in Canada. To cook like a Calabrian, look for these authentic and celebrated ingredients.
1. Peperoncino – The famous Calabrian hot pepper; available in jars or dried.
2. Calabrian seasonings: Dried Oregano, Bergamot Essence, and Fennel Seed – These are the hallmark aromatics of Calabrian cuisine.
3. Olio Lametia DOP: This Extra Virgin Olive Oil is made from pressed olives – at least 90% must be the Carolea variety – harvested in Catanzaro, the capital city of Calabria. The olives undergo a cold extraction process to produce the resulting delicate and fruity Lametia Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
4. ’Nduja – A uniquely Calabrian salumi, this fiery, spreadable pork sausage is spiced with pepperoncino, and is just one of the many pork salumis from this region.
5. Calabrian Extra-virgin Olive Oil – 25% of Italy’s olive oil is produced in Calabria, so the oil is used very liberally – even for deep-frying!
6. Canned Seafood – Anchovies and Tuna are frequently used in Calabrian cuisine. Commonly packaged in olive oil or sea salt, these Italian preserved goods are unlike any of their North American counterparts. Use anchovies to add umami flavour to a sauce, whilst Italian canned tuna is perfect tossed in pasta or to top a salad.
7. Capers – The unopened bud of the Capparis Spinoso, a Mediterranean shrub, is brined or packed in salt, adding interest to salads, sauces, and seafood dishes.
8. Pecorino Cheese – Made of 100% sheep’s milk, this salty, hard Italian cheese is often used for grating onto pasta.
10. Calabrian Pastas – Ricci di Donna, Fileja, Maccaruni – to name just a few, tend to be eggless and are still made by hand in Calabria. Dried versions can be found in Italian and gourmet grocers.109. Polenta – A true comfort food that’s revered in Calabria. Look for the most finely ground corn meal available.