It’s the unofficial symbol of Calabria. You’ll literally see it everywhere you turn and if you find yourself in Calabria, especially in late summer, it isn’t uncommon to see strings of it hanging out to dry from doorways, balconies, and windows.
We are talking, of course, about peperoncini (chili peppers). These beautifully colored deep red peppers are an important part of Calabrian cuisine which is known for its simplicity, explosion of flavor and spicy kick. In the past, we’ve posted recipes on the blog for Pasta, Aglio, Olio and Peperoncino , Pasta con ‘Nduja (a peppery spreadable sausage made using peperoncini) and a traditional dish from Catanzaro called Morzello.
Peperoncini not only bulk up dishes with a punch of flavor but they also have great health benefits like stimulating digestion and releasing endorphins, the chemical in our brains that make us feel happier. Guess that explains why Southern Italians are generally so warm and friendly. And don’t be surprised or alarmed if you see peperoncini advertised as “viagra naturale” (natural Viagra) or “viagra dei poveri” (poor man’s Viagra). It’s not a typo or an embarrassing misuse of the word. Hot peppers are said to be natural aphrodisiacs and can help to *ahem* “heat things up”.
So with all that being said, it shouldn’t be a complete shock to discover that there is a large and rather well-known festival held every year honoring these diavoletti (little devils). The Peperoncino Festival takes place in September, this year from September 10th to 14th, in the beautiful historic center of Diamante, a lovely fishing village in the Province of Cosenza not only known for its impressive sparkling beaches but also its love for all things peperoncino.
Tourists, exhibitors, chefs, and food enthusiasts come from all over to partake in the festivities. Not only can you give your taste buds a jolt and try many wonderful traditional dishes made with peperoncini but you can also check out workshops, exhibitions, films, concerts and street entertainment all centered around and inspired by all things “hot”. And did we mention it’s free?!
If you are planning to visit Calabria, we definitely suggest you try and organize it around this festival. It’s definitely one of a kind!
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Image Credits: Roberto Pasini,