Food Culture and Tradition

Food, People and Culture Resources

Emilio-Romagna and Liguria


The main city of Liguria on Italy’s north-western coast is Genoa. Often called the richest city in Italy, Genoa is also known for its conservative elegance and fine taste in everything from small cars to discerning food. Basil grown in tiny pots on windowsills represents not only the wild weed that grows in every meadow, but also a beloved flavor. Genoa’s traditional sauce pesto is prepared from generous amounts of fresh green basil, pine nuts or walnuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Garlic may or may not be an ingredient in the pureed sauce that is served over pasta. Traditionally, mortar and pestle are used to pound the herb and nuts into a smooth fine paste, but electric blenders are also used.

The focacce of this region are likely to be dimpled and studded with anything from sea salt to fresh herbs, olives, or Gorgonzola thinned with a little fresh cream and sprinkled with thyme.

Fish and vegetables are so popular that they blend together to form many of the most famous classic dishes of the area. One is burrida, in which a variety of fish (rospo or frogfish, dogfish, mackerel, octopus, eels, etc.) is sautéed in a flavorful sauce of oil, garlic, parsley, and tomatoes, then thickened with pounded walnuts, blended with white wine and finally served in its cooking pot with toasted bread. Ciuppin is another fish soup but prepared with pureed mixed fish.

Liguria is also famed as the area where ravioli was invented, where many tempting candies and sweets are prepared daily, and where fine wines complement each meal.

Salami, mortadella, bologna, and zamponi represent only a few of the famed sausages varying from bland to hot and spicy that prove the popularity and ingenuity of pork in the region of Emilio-Romagna. Parma is believed to be the area that originated Parmesan cheese. Not only Parmesan goes with pasta, but also the famed Bolognese sauce called ragu prepared from a blend of well-cooked vegetables, mushrooms, and meats. The most famed pasta of the region are the many versions of tortellini (ladies’ navels). In general the cookery of the area is considered to be the “fattest” of Italy: rich and well seasoned with spices and garlic.

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