‘Nduja sausage conquers the world

Calabrian cooking achieves ever more success globally thanks also to the ‘nduja sausage (which, according to some, excites and stimulates conversation)

If there is any region which has not had the recognition it deserves in the field of gastronomy, it’s Calabria, where it’s possible to try specialities which evoke both surprise and pleasure.

Let’s start in the morning. Instead of the typical breakfast, if you are in Reggio Calabria in the summer, you might like to start in a patisserie or in a bar where they will serve you a type of brioche cut in half and filled with extraordinary ice creams, perhaps accompanied by a glass of orzata.

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If, instead, you are in Pizzo Calabro, don’t miss the chocolate-covered ice cream truffle, which until a while ago was banned from being taken out of the town. It was necessary to keep it in loco to be sure of preserving all of the typical variations of this speciality. Today, the rules have relaxed a little, and therefore the magic dessert can also be found in the surrounding area.

But let’s think about dishes to try at lunch or dinner. First of all, there are red and pulpy Tropea onions. They are so sweet that often they are eaten raw in strips or stuffed with lentils or pea purée.

After an aperitif, you may move onto snails with oregano, served as a soup with croutons. Also, when cooked with tomato, snails make an excellent pasta sauce.

Now, let’s move on to “mustica” or “rosa marina”, the typical dish of Cirò and Crotone. It is made of whitebait (in this case baby eels) which are sun dried covered in chillies and then preserved in oil. Then, there is the smoked swordfish caught from the Messina Strait, an exquisite preparation which also works on salmon.

If you’re still hungry, there is an unforgettable cheese: butirro, a type of fresh stringy cheese which hides a delicious knob of butter inside.

Among the curiosities you’ll find if you go up Mount Sila towards the Serra San Bruno Abbey, there is a true rarity: pieces of the volcanic and porous Tuff stone found in the woods full of mycelium, from which, with a little water added, every so often delicious edible fungi appear.

But we cannot leave Calabria without mentioning an original dessert: torrone gelato, which looks just like an ice cream but is in actual fact layered citrus fruit, orange, mandarin, candied and mixed with almonds and covered in chocolate.

Lastly, to take with you for the rest the day, there is the legendary liquorice. This is the best in the world and has been made since the beginning of the 1700s in mint, aniseed and violet variants.

Here, they also produce liqueurs, beer, chocolate and nougat, perfumes and toothpaste all flavoured with liquorice. If going on to Rossano, stop at the Museum of Liquorice, the only one in Europe.

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