Gastronomic specialties of Corsica

Also from the point of view of gastronomic culture Corsica is a world of its own, at least respect to the French dryland, where the cuisine is usually very elaborate and complex. On the contrary, the culinary tradition of Corsica is characterized by freshness and simplicity with great attention to authenticity and quality of food and drinks. It is not a case that the bloody siege of Aléria in 1975, which saw the violent encounter between the French army and a commando of the ARC (Action Régionaliste Corse) used as a pretext the scandal of huge quantities of wine which had been altered with sugars and chemical substances by a rich family of farmers, with the purpose to increase the wine production.

Apart from these violent claims, food is generally given a lot of care and attention, something which made it possible for traditional restaurants to preserve high standards, at relatively affordable costs. Do not trust the false Corsican menus which are proposed in summer by many restaurants in the tourist seaside resorts,, where the authenticity of dishes is highly compromised, and the relationship between quality and price is not so convenient as it looks. On the contrary, prefer a simple dish in traditional restaurants, where portions are also more abundant.

Meat is the leading food in Corsican cuisine, starting with the famous Corsican sausage, one of the most appreciated in the world for the top quality of the meat, which comes from selected wild pigs grown in semi liberty and exclusively fed with natural fruits, acorns and chestnuts. The most renowned sausages are the prisuttu,a kind of ham dried for 18 months, coppa, lonzu, (a slice of smoked pork meat which is served grilled), figatellu and fittonu, salsiccia di fegato che viene servita grigliata, salamu, (a dry and spicy sausage), salcicetta,valetta (corresponding to the cheek) and finally, the so called fromage de tête,(obtained from the animal brain).

The typical Corsican meat dishes include stews or stracotto made with wild pig, roasted lamb, veal with olives, and during the winter hunting season, the, tianu (a rich game stew). On the coast it is possible to taste some wonderful fish and shellfish, as well as sea urchins, grilled moray, pilchards filled with brocciu, red mullets, basses, gilt-breams and stone bass, and of course the famous lobsters of the gulf of Saint-Florent and the oysters, which can be found on the east coast: in this case obviously prices are higher, but a taste of these good crustaceans and shellfish is worth the cost. The uncontaminated rivers and torrents of the inland territories abound with trouts and eels, therefore these fish are also common on the local tables.

No worry if you are vegetarian! Fruit and vegetables abound in every season, and the Corsican cheese is as renowned as the sausages. The brocciu, probably the most known, is a fresh cheese made from sheep or goat milk, and can be found only from December to July, accompanied with honey or jam, as an ingredient for various desserts, or as filling for courgettes and mint omelettes. Any cheese produced outside the above mentioned period is made with milk powder or preservatives, consequently its flavor is a bit compromised. Better to taste the very good seasoned cheese produced in many parts of the island, some of which are strong, some others more delicate.

Another very good dish is chestnut polenta, either served with meat, fried and spread with sugar. A revaluation of ancient flavors and traditions connected with chestnut has actually began, which brought as consequence the reintroduction of soups, fried cakes and bread prepared with this fruit. Wherever you go you will find crêpes, sweet or salty; often in substitution of lunch or dinner, as well as the bastilles,( salty pies made with spinaches, onion or brocciu) and the quiches (another must of the French cuisine), which are salty pies filled with cream and vegetables or meat. Bastilles and quiches can be also found in butcher’s and grocer’s.

In pastry shops there is a wide choice of local sweets and cakes, like the i beignets, pancakes made with chestnut flour and brocciu, chestnut pies, fiadone, ( a cake made of brocciu, lemon and eggs, which is served immersed in liquor), canistrelli,(dry sweets with almond, nuts, lemon or aniseed). Corsica is also a great producer of very special fig jams (alternatively made with nuts and almonds), as well as orange jams, lemon, mandarin and chestnut jams. Honey,is as also excellent, with 6 qualities boasting the designation of DOC (protected and controlled quality). No matter the typology you choose (with chestnut, flowers exc..): all qualities are worth a taste. Generally honey producers sell their products in the streets, so you can purchase them directly.

Corsica is also known for its good wines, which result from the lucky combination of the sea climate and the flavors of Mediterranean vegetation, even though the wise work of farmers plays an important part, as they fight to obtain good vintages from a granite soil, drastically reducing pesticides and using traditional techniques. The island has 9 designated protected areas (Patrimonio, Cape Corso, Sartène among the most famous) and in tourist offices you can find the interesting brochure Route des Vins with a list of all the wine areas and tasting tours offered by the local wine farms. If you want to bring home with you a taste of Corsica, a wine tour in one of these farms is certainly a good occasion to buy some good wine directly from the producer.

Both red and white wines are excellent, in addition to some qualities of rosé and moscato, especially from the area of Cape Corse and Patrimonio, but remember that the majority of Corsican wines are not suitable for aging, so they should be consumed within two years from bottling. As a digestive, we suggest to try the acquavite, pure or flavored, and the liquors made with cider or mirto. These liquors are often offered in restaurants at the end of a meal. There are three local beers produced in Corsica, which are not bad at all: Pietra is a bitter beer with chestnut flavor but light taste, Colomba is light and thirst-quenching; Torre is a red beer with a taste reminding of the Mediterranean vegetation.

Scopri cosa fare in Corsica