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Papillae, pupils and nostrils dilated

Wednesday 24 june 2020

From Ligurian to Sicilian cuisine, all colored. Cassata, a traditional agricultural and food product of the region of Sicily, has Arab origins.

Papillae, pupils and nostrils dilated

Can you smell it with your eyes? Can you "see" perfumes? Of course you can! And food is a carnal sign of it. The landscape blends in with the olfactory hues of the culinary specialties that are prepared right "there", colorful dishes that give off the smell of their land and sea. Cinque Terre: the five villages hanging on this stretch of Liguria's coast are a crib of colours, almost candied from a cassata glued to a rock overlooking the sea. Cassata, a traditional agricultural and food product of the region of Sicily, has Arab origins: green cedar, bitter orange, lemon yellow. It was then the nuns of the Martorana convent in Palermo who invented the homonymous base for this cake, the martorana or royal pasta, almond flour and sugar traditionally dyed green with herbal extracts. What to drink to accompany cassata? A Sciacchetrà, of course! A passito with a dizzying scent, with persistent hints of candied fruit that make up the unique notes of this liquid amber at risk of extinction.

Cassata siciliana

Yellow, firstborn of the sun
Fruit colors of light. Fruits children of the sun, like the yellow Sicilian winter melon. It is produced in particular in the Trapani area, where it is called "Cartucciaro": smooth skin, elongated shape, white and very juicy flesh, it keeps almost until Christmas and is the protagonist of slush and cremolate, their most creamy relatives. Tuscany: in the clay hills of the Val d'Orcia, the green in summer turns intense yellow: sunflowers, brooms, wheat. The pecorino cheese that is produced in the ancient village of Pienza, a World Heritage Site and straw yellow in colour, is made from the milk of Sardinian sheep matured in aromatic oak barriques, which determine its tannic, almost grape marc taste. But Tuscan yellow and corn also means Garfagnana and Media Valle del Serchio, where an ancient cereal is cultivated with natural methods, a traditional agricultural product of the region: Formenton Otto File, corn so called because the plant has only one corn with eight rows of grains that give a good and delicate polenta, to be combined with wild boar sauce.

Granita di melone

Garlic red and oil red (no chili!)
Red is also the garlic of Castelliri, a village incorporated in the green countryside of Lazio in the valley of the river Liri. A challenge to the laws of colour, since red garlic comes from the mixture of white garlic with pink garlic. This bulb with purple tunics is perfect to be the protagonist in bruschettas and spaghetti with oil and chilli pepper. Where are we going to get the oil? In the centuries-old olive trees of Salento, which stand out as living and ancient totems on the red and generous soil. The PDO Terra d'Otranto takes its name from the village considered the most beautiful in Puglia, with its white-covered condensed stone that contours the blue of infinity. The extra-virgin olive oil is green or yellow-green, it tastes of fruit but also of leaves, is medium spicy and bitter and offers the fragrance of this peninsula that lives between two seas.

Olio d'Oliva Dop

Mediterranean Blue
To finish our journey in colour we land in Procida, facing the ultra blue sea and the rainbow mounted in the village called Marina Corricella. With the colors full of aromas of its island cuisine: blue catch of the fish that arrive in port at four in the afternoon, from anchovies (marinated) to squids (stuffed, 'mbuttunati); multicolor vegetable gardens of maxi artichokes, zucchini, scarole and those purple-blue aubergines to prepare 'A Parmiggiana 'and Mulignane'. The colour wheel turns creating infinite shades of colour. And so we go back to yellow, that of the lemons of Procida, a traditional agri-food product of the Campania region, a now rare fruit that is grown in small quantities in the few lemon groves that have survived to the present day and in the gardens of the island's families, which by putting the peels in infusion produce the unbeatable Limoncello di Procida, with which to toast the light that floods us with colour.

Calamari ripieni


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