A Quest for Food Purity Which Lead to the Discovery of Spirit Authenticity
in myself & in others………..
The long crescent stretch of coastline along the Lingurian Sea and between the Italian Alps in the north of Italy located in the state of Genoa, is considered the Italian Riviera. Famous for its breathtaking sea views and crystal clear waters, small fishing ports and villages typically built on cliffs, a place where mountains meet the sea with little if any meadowlands , it’s romantic allure and breathtaking views paired with the warm sun and ocean breeze, make it the place to be in the summertime. The houses along the coast are painted in vibrant pinks, oranges and yellows with green window shutters. It’s a quintessential vibrant Italian area, where the sea dominates the culture and traditions. The Italian Riviera stretches from La Spezia to the South all the way along the coast to the border of France and to the French Riviera. The northern coast of Italy has long been a posh and chic area often with extravagant villas overlooking the sea but still speckled with local traditions, especially in cuisine. Relatively conservative are the northern coastal Italians, so don’t expect the same kind of topless sunbathers and sexiness that exudes the French Riviera. The Italian Riviera is a bit more sophisticated and conservative, with the heartbeat being tradition and culture. This playground for the rich and famous of Italy and Europe and a newly discovered tourist destination among westerners, mainly due to the Cinque Terre region has become the world’s best and longest secret.
The cuisine of Linguria is very different from the other regions of Italy. Filled with fresh seafood’s and fresh herbs specifically basil, marjoram and borage, not to mention a slew of indigenous wild herbs. The Genovese Basil, one of the most popular and sweetest varieties of basil is coveted by this region (as well as the world) is seen heavily throughout their cuisine, and this Ligurian Coast is known as the home of pesto! The sweetest basil in the world is the claim of the Lingurians. The folklore says that the basil that was planted and grown hundreds of years ago next to the sea turned sweeter due to the sea air and salt as it grew in along the warm hillsides of the Lingurian coast. Basil and pesto are seen throughout the cuisines and the traditional method of pesto making is still seen widely throughout this region of Italy, not to mention that all are completely aware of why this method is the best for pesto.( See Recipe of the Month for more on that) Outside of the pesto which is pretty predominant, the other key indicators that you are smack dab on the Italian Rivira are other fresh herbs, like the Prebuggiun, an indigenous herb mixture typical in the Lingurian and Genoan cuisine, still traditionally used and foraged however the wild foraged herbs are bought in markets as opposed to harvested in the hillsides for each household. There are still a large handful of professional foragers that forage daily and bring to markets. Typical herbs used in this mix are, basil, marjoram, borage, spinach, cicerbita, grattalingua, wild chicory, dandelion, meadow chard, nettles, French scorzner, ribwort plantain, sow thisleleg, wild fennel, salad burnet, red valerian, curled doc, lesse celandine; plus a few other indigenous herbs. The herbs are typically washed and boiled down into a filling and then either mixed with cheeses and eggs for pansotti or other traditional dishes like the prebuggium per la pasqualina (Easter Cake.)
Of course on a sea like the Linguarian Sea one can expect to find a plethora of seafood and certainly with an Italian herbal flare. With a rich tradition of fisherman and fishing this area is thick with all elements of the sea. Think seafood pastas and risottos and loads and loads of anchovies. There is lots of octopus, squid and cuttlefish abundant in the dishes as well. The warm Mediterranean sea is also perfect for olives and a special type that loves basking in the glories of the sea salted sunshine. They say that everything is sweeter in Lingurian because of the sea and the warmth, the olives, the herbs, the vegetables, the pine nuts, the chestnuts and yes even the garlic. Another of the specialties of the area is focaccia. This unleaved flat bread is eaten straight out of the oven and smothered in fresh herbs form the region after its baked.
The region is a passionate crowd as I have/will demonstrate over all in this month’s blog. They love their traditions and work hard to keep them alive and their food is very much a part of their culture, The historical data that each and every person contains about food and culture is tremendous. The indulge in outdoor activity whenever possible, the beach, boating, fishing and hiking and all activities revolve around eating well and traditionally!
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