Eating Out in Calabria

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outdoor in Tropea piazza

outdoor in Tropea piazza

A hidden paradise surrounded by the clearest water Italy has to offer, Calabria is an undiscovered region rich in powerful flavors. This idyllic land is filled with many species of trees that range from bergamot and citron to lemon, palm, oleander, almond, chestnut, fig, olive, and pepper trees. These natural elements are used as important ingredients in the local cuisine.

Calabrian cuisine is among the most flavorful and spicy food Italy has to offer, abounding in seafood and vegetables. The most commonly cooked fish are swordfish and tuna, which are mainly caught on the western coast. Bottarga, or preserved tuna roe, is a local specialty and features prominently in many traditional dishes.

The abundance of sheep in the area is the source of Calabria's various lamb dishes and some of its many cheeses. Calabria is also famous for its caciocavallo, a cow's milk cheese that is good raw but even better grilled alongside some vegetables. Eggplant and peppers are cooked in sauces, pickled, grilled, or fried as an appetizer, main course, or side dish.

If you are a pepper lover and are traveling through Calabria, order a peperonata, a stew of peppers and meaty local capers. Chili peppers are dominant and used in everything from cured meats to pasta. Particularly famous are Calabrian spicy sausages, or soppressata, which are excellent appetizers or sandwich fillers. Figs, chestnuts, and almonds are mainly used in desserts like Fichi Ripieni (Stuffed Figs), a specialty of Cosenza that tops dried figs with cocoa, almonds, and other nuts. These few ingredients are essential to local cooking and are the basis of many flavorful dishes.

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