Liguria is one of the smallest regions of Italy – a crescent of Italian Riviera squeezed between France, Piedmont, Lombardy, Tuscany and the Mediterranean sea. The pace of life there is slow, like the zephyr breeze that can calm the seas. But don’t let this picture fool you – the wind blows hard most days, as wild and strong as the people who live there. Ligurians are a hardy bunch, rough like the landscape of the region where they live. In Liguria, there are mountains and sea. Just so with Ligurians – there’s no half measures, no maybes nor shades of grey, only loyalty, strength and traditions. I am from here.
Its history reads like a Greek odyssey, rich in dominations, invasions, the amazing growth and rise of a maritime republic, followed by a great fall in the age of Napoleon. The Savoy family, the Great War, World War 2… each and every one of these events left a mark on the culture, on its people and consequently (and wonderfully for us!), on its food.
Because of its lack of level agricultural land, these hardy folks improvised and built ledges to grow plants, meaning that the traditional recipes from that area are made with few and poor ingredients. In order to make amazing food with basically nothing you have to be imaginative and brave. Chickpea flour, basil, pine nuts and garlic. Just a few vegetables and fish. That’s it. No meat, maybe a little cheese and that’s it, nothing else!
Panissa (see last post’s recipe), “farinata”, focaccia, stuffed anchovies, “fritto misto”, courgettes’ flowers and vegetable croquettes are just few of the amazing street foods you’ll find and taste in the smallest alleys in Genoa, next to the port, or in the tiny Monterosso un “Cinque terre”, probably one of the most beautiful villages in Liguria.