Cinque Terre cuisine inherits a million year old tradition which is tied to the history of the coastal territory. The dishes of today in fact preserve characteristics of that period, like the respect of smell and flavours. Fish, as is obvious, is the master: anchovies, bream, bass, cuttle-fish, octopus and calamary are amongst the main ingredients in many dishes.
Dishes made tastier by adding aromatic essences which grow in the whole area, like origan, thyme and majoram, dressed with local olive oil and washed down with superb local white wines. Whilst with regard to vegetables, cultivated everywhere in the allotments, a lot of space is given to vegetable pies and minestrone soup, prepared with borrage, beetroot, cabbage, artichokes, potatoes and leeks. Meat dishes are few, almost limited only to white meat like chicken and rabbit.
Stuffed musselsStuffed mussels
Wash and open two-thirds of the mussels, preserving the stock, whilst in a small pan cook the remaining mussels.
Then add to the cooked mussels chopped up bread, mortadella (Bologna sausage), garlic and other herbs, then mix together with egg, grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and distribute this mixture inside the open mussels. In the meantime simmer on a low heat a chopped onion until soft, then add peeled tomato and cook on a high heat. Finally place the stuffed mussels in a casserole, pour stock over them and cook for half an hour.
Courgette flower frittersCourgette flower fritters
While oil is heating in a frying pan, make a liquid paste from water, flour, salt and courgette flowers. The liquid is then poured onto the hot oil a little at a time to form small fritters, which once they become golden in colour should be drained and eaten hot.
Sciacchetrà grapeIf once upon a time wine growing of the Cinque Terre was one of the distinct aspects of the area, today there are few people who work in this sector. In order to aid this tradition since 1982 the Cooperative Agricola (Agriculture Cooperative) exists which produces Cinque Terre and Sciacchetrà, two D.O.C. wines. The first is a delicate white wine of a pale yellow colour, ideal with sea dishes, vegetable pieces and focacce (flat bread).
The second wine is without doubt the most well known in the Cinque Terre. It is a sweet wine, ideal for desserts. It has a limited production and is obtained from the fermentation of the same grapes as the white wine, though in this case they are left to dry for three months on a trellis. The “pigiatura”, which takes place at the end of November perhaps gives the name its origin ("sciacàa", schiacciare).