Known as the “Toe of the Boot”, the Calabria region sits on the bottom of the Italian Peninsula and is surrounded by the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Sea. It is separated from Sicily by the Strait of Messina by a mere 2 miles. The region has three mountain regions: Pollino, La Sila and Aspromonte. Each of the three regions has its own unique flora and fauna. This region is separated by Pollino, where the mountains continue to head east into La Sila and taper off at Aspromonte. Many different cultures of the Mediterranean have settled in the Calabrian region including the Normans and the Byzantines along with Albanians after the Turkish invasion. In many towns in Calabria including Consentino, Albanian is the most common language.
On the terraces of Aspromonte, you’ll find the largest citrons on the planet that are about the size of grapefruits. If you’re looking for freshness, Calabria has the second-most organic farmers in all of Italy behind Sicily. If you like olive oil, Calabria produces the second most in the country and nearly 30% of all its trees are olives. Although their lands may appear to be plentiful, Calabrians are considered resourceful in terms of their food and how their cuisine evolved. With the constant threat of marine invasion and mountainous terrain, it made agriculture very difficult in terms of what type of crops can exist. Like most Italian regions, bread is a very common staple at the dinner table and can be seen in recipes for pitta which is a flatbread that is stuffed with tomatoes, peppers and herbs. Although there are many sheepherders in the region, more pork is consumed by the locals. Typical meats are Prosciutto, Pancetta DOP, Salsiccia DOP, Soppressata DOP, Capocollo di Calabria DOP and Nduja which consists of sausage stuffed with sweet and spicy peppers. If you’re looking for the taste of the ocean, Swordfish is the most common fish served on special occasions and usually marinated with lemon, butter, onions and fava beans. Dessert is usually comprised of something that is licorice based in nature. Calabrians have been using this produce since the 1700’s as an after-meal aid for digestion and to ward off colds. If you’re looking to wine down a bit with some Calabrian wines, look for Greco, Nicastro or Ciro’ are all indigenous to the region. They are intense, full-bodied wines that pair nicely with the local flavor.
Keep a look out for the newest line of Flora meats and cheeses that all hail from the wonderful region of Calabria. Our Calabrese Olives are a gem from the region as well!