Ciao Chow! Five Things to Try When You are in Calabria

Last week I was invited to join the hosts of Eye on Italy for their podcast taping and to share information on traveling in Calabria. Inevitably, the subject of food came up and I was asked, along with fellow American in Calabria and podcast co-host, Michelle Fabio, which Calabrian foods are our favorites.

You can listen to the full podcast, but I’d also like to share some of that information with you today. Here are five Calabrian food items you should try when you visit Calabria.

1. ‘Nduja

I’ve written quite a bit about Calabria’s famous ‘nduja, the spreadable spicy sausage you can eat with pasta, gnocchi or bruschetta, so you can read more about it here and here.

I’ll warn you, this stuff can be so hot it’ll singe the skin on the roof of your mouth. Still … you should try it. (Convinced yet?)

If you aren’t sure about eating ‘nduja in a restaurant, then pick some up at a local store, dab a bit on a piece a bread and slowly add to it until it is hot. It won’t take long.

2. Provola di Sila

This special type of provola cheese is made in the mountains of La Sila National Park and is sometimes called Caciocavallo Silano. Calabrians keep it in their homes and add it to sandwiches or eat it is as a snack-or sometimes offer it as a snack, like my father in law does.

3. Melanzane

I wouldn’t say I wasn’t an eggplant kind of girl before I came to Calabria, but I can definitely say I am one now. I *heart* this big purple produce, whether it is grilled, sott’olio, stuffed or baked.

If you see it in restaurants as either part of an antipasto or as melanzane ripiene then try it.

4. Anything Spicy

Yes, we technically hit this with the ‘nduja entry, but if spicy sausage isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy Calabria’s famous . You can ask for it to be added to your pizza or request a piccante antipasto or pasta dish.

I was actually trying to think of a dish where you shouldn’t add peperoncini … and I couldn’t think of one. Can you?

5. Brasilena

Unless you’ve spent time in Calabria, you might not know that Brasilena is a cold espresso beverage made with Calabrian mineral water taken from the source at Monte Covello in the province of Catanzaro. These drinks are especially enjoyable on hot summer days … like the ones that are approaching.

Is your favorite Calabrian food item not on the list? What would you add?

Traveling to southern Italy? Click here to see how I can help you plan your trip to Calabria or southern Italy.

Photo: About Italian Food and Steffen’s Dinners

8 Responses
  1. Great post Cherrye.. I love brasilena! I’m so glad we don’t have choose only 5 things though:)

    Definitely. I actually saw your post about Brasilena when I was writing this one!

  2. Agrodolce–made with Tropea onions! Delizioso! Also I had Cippoline Gelato when I was there, made by the octogenerian gelato maker of Tropea: Tonino–Excellent! I am craving it right now…

    If I hadn’t just eaten my weight in pasta e ceci, I would be, too. 🙂

  3. I adored the home made limoncello I drank everywhere in Calabria. Also the dried figs stuffed with an almond and rolled in cinnamon. Baccala and stock fish cooked in an aromatic tomato sauce is not to be missed.

    In the US we have a soda called “Manhattan Special” which tastes very close to Brasilena. My Calabrese husband loves it!

    Oh neat, thanks for the tip on Manhattan Special. I will have to look for it here in the US!

    .-= Pat´s last blog ..Montauk Point Lighthouse & The Memory Hotel =-.

  4. When we go to Calabria, it is usually in the summer months and I can’t resist eating ridiculous quantities of fruit even when I am full up. Sweet wild strawberries, cherries, succulent melons, and nespoli. Heavenly.

    What about figs? You forgot the figs!

  5. leslie

    I had a thin crepe folded in half and then slathered with melted nuttela, folded again and served in a paper cone. They just called it Chocolat! To die for salavating waiting in long lines to get one! Open only late at night by the discos in Soverato.

Leave a Reply