The ancient traditions and a millenarian culture have deeply influenced cookery.
Several are the memories linked to the Arabian wolrd, very rich in spices. Aromatics herbs, hand-made doughs, pork, fish, vegetables hold the supremacy, while cakes are less numerous and are less elaborated. The protagonists of the table are starters where swordfish is served in "carpaccio" or smoked transparent slices.
On could think that fish has the supremacy owing to the so many Kms of coasts, wet by a rich and clean sea.
On the contrary in the stout calabrian cookery meat prevails on fish and pork is the king at least for seven months a year, eaten fresh or as sausages. Cosenza is the first in this last speciality with its "soppressate" and "capicolli" that have an uncomparable taste.
In Reggio every part of the pork is exploited for the preparation of the "frittole" and "curcuci", that are cooked in big boilers full of water and salt. With the pork also a good ragout can be prepared with fresh tomato sauce ccoked with meat that has been fried slowly with onions. When it is ready , it will be used to season "maccarruni i casa" (home-made macaroni) that in Cosenza are called "fusilli" while in Sila are "scilatelli" or "ferretti". Other typical main dishes are "pasta china" baked pasta stuffed with all sorts of good things, pasta with legumes, often prepared with lard or pigskin and the "strangugia previti" to be served with sauce and vegetables. A tipical dish of some Ionic areas is ragout of "lastra" that is a young goat that has not become mother yet.
A typical dish of Catanzaro is the "morseddu" that is ox low fried with onions, tomatoes, wine and a lot of red pepper.
Then you can also taste macaroni fried with eggs and pecorino. Of course fish can be eaten in the so many restaurants on the coast that are specialized in fish. Crawfish, cods, polyps, calamaries, mackerels, "saraghi", "lupi" , "cernie" and little reddish "surici" good to be fried.
A speech apart merits "sardella" or "bianchetto", pickled fish that that after is mixed with wild fennel and red pepper, and the "piscistoccu" that with its thousand recipes is always the winner among the most blasoned local fish. Yet the sword-fish is always the king in the gastronomy sea fauna: that one fished in the Strait of Messina is surely the tastiest and many many legends are connected with it and its typical fishing carried out with special boats provided with turrets in order to sight the fish, and also provided with gangways to harpoon it.
Another legend is about the female's sorrow when its partner has been gaught. In summer, at Bagnara Calabra on the COST VIOLA, a traditional festival takes place during which the fish is cooked in the open air in the main square transformed into a big restaurant, where everybody can taste it.
Another typical fish of this area is the needle-fish. It is fished during summer nights, without moonlight, only by "lampare"'s light, using harpoons, or when they are plentiful, fishermen use the "coppo" a sort of basket-shaped net, with a long handle. In may and June in the gulf of St. Euphemia, near Pizzo and Tropea, tuna is caught , pushed towards the tunny-fishing grounds. Also vegetables and alimentary preserves have an important role in calabrian cookery.
As said before, black pepper, red "peperoncino" and chilly are widely used. That's why calabrian cookery has in fact been defined "SPICY". The most widely used vegetable is aubergine cooked in all ways: fried, roasted, stuffed, mushroom shaped...
In little balls mixed with bread crumbs and cheese, in bitter sweet sauce everything is pickled, from tomatoes that are trasformed into home-made fresh sauce embottled and boiled for hours and hours, or dried in the sunshine and oil pickled with "infernal" sauces.
Other delicatessen are mushrooms, vegetable marrows, sweet marmeladed and...... aubergine.
The most typical cheese is "burrini" that are caciocavalli with a butter soul, rennet cheese, pecorino cheese (sheep's milk cheese) and provoline.
Confectionery is very elaborated and honey has an important role among all the other ingredients. This precious element is probably the inheritance of greek culture that used it as a propitiatory element for sacrifices to gods. Another calabrian speciality are the so-called "nzuddi" from Seminara, flour and honey original biscuits decorated with little pieces of coloured tin-foil. Then you can find "morticeddi" i.e. fruit-shaped marzipan that decorate confectionary shop windowe during All Saints Day.
Follow our advice : taste the great variety of calabrian ice-creams produced in Reggio Calabria. As concerns wines, calabrian people prefer drinking red wines even if recently also white ones have been well appreciated by consumers.
The most reknown wines of North Calabria are: The Savuto and the Esaro, The Donnici and the Verbicaro. The province of Catanzaro is the most generous oenological producer, thanks also to the use of advanced technologies. The most important wines produced there are : Cirò, Lamezia, Novello, Valdamato, Melissa, St. Anna and Val di Neto.
The province of Reggio Calabria is oenological known for the production of its dessert white wine under the label of D.O.C. product: the "Greco di Bianco" which origins date back to the VII century B.C. On the Ionic coast the most reknown wines are: the Pellaro and the Palizzi.
All Calabrian wines are famous to be very stout and are exported in other Regions.