You know how I feel about Italy and Italian food. It’s love. Always love. And though I know quite a bit about the food in Northern and Central Italy, other than fish, lemons and limoncello that I sampled on the Amalfi coast – I have yet to try many other Southern Italian specialties.
Here to tell us more about foods in Italy’s southern region, is none other than my Travel Tip Tuesday partner – Cherrye.
Southern Italy food is characterized by spicy red pepper, fresh fruits and vegetables and a healthy combination of meat and fish-from both the mountains and the seas that surround the land.
Some of the most famous contributions to Italian food are abundant in the south, especially olive oil, wines and cheese. Here is a quick roundup of some of my favorite dishes from five of the regions in southern Italy.
Yes, yes, Naples gave birth to the pizza and it is likely their most famous invention-and one my husband and I celebrate a couple of times a week-but another tasty treat from Campania is the lemon-infused digestive liquor, limoncello.
Limoncello is not only a great night cap with friends, but can also be used in cooking. Check out our delizia al limone recipe, yet another great dish from southern Italy.
Sicily is famous for their rosticceria, fried appetizers, and one of the most popular items on the list is arancini.
Arancini are rice balls, traditionally filled with ground beef, tomato sauce and a few green peas, then deep fried to golden, uhm, little orange perfection. They are often eaten as an appetizer to pizza or served as part of an antipasto platter.
For the first year or so that I lived in Calabria I was hesitant to try their famous ‘nduja spreadable sausage … not so much for fear of the flame, but rather for fear of unknown meat. Still, ‘nduja won and once I tried it, I was hooked.
Here in Calabria, you will often find ‘nduja-filled arancini, ‘nduja bruschetta or even pasta or gnocchi in a ‘nduja sauce.
The food in Basilicata is a simple combination of fresh vegetables and spicy red pepper, but if you find yourself near Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage site for its Sassi cave dwellings, then be sure to find time for breaking bread. The Pane di Matera, or bread from Matera is made exclusively with durum wheat and is characterized by its thick crust and soft interior. It also has an impressive shelf life for homemade bread.
Ever-more-popular Puglia is gaining in notoriety, not only because of the laid-back cities and the sea, but also, or perhaps, even more so, for its food and wine. One of the most famous Pugliese pastas is orecchiette, so-named because the pasta is shaped like orecchiette, or little ears.
There are a variety of sauces that go well with orecchiette, but one of my favorite dishes is Orecchiette con cime di rape-pasta and broccoli rabe.
What is your favorite thing to eat in southern Italy?
Cherrye Moore is a Calabria travel consultant and freelance writer living in southern Italy. She writes about living and traveling in southern Italy on her site, My Bella Vita. She and her Calabrese husband also own Il Cedro Bed and Breakfast in Catanzaro.