My Ligurian longstay is over and I come home to Parma full of deliciously fresh fish and pesto. Ligurian cuisine is uniquely delicious in the respect that it is incredibly varied and incredibly fresh. Known for beautiful summer stops such as Cinque Terre, Genova, Portofino, and Portovenere, the Ligurian region of Italy is often frequented by Italian and international travellers alike….IN THE SUMMER!
The reason I emphasize the season so extensively, is because March is probably the absolute worst time we could have picked to do our week long gastronomic and tourism field trip in Liguria. Why? Well.. let’s just put it this way, Hurricane Katrina like winds, and Snow…at the beach. Almost no shops were open because only an absolute moron would go to the beach in bone-chilling temperatures. Despite this minor detail, we did get some sun, and on the days when the weather was sub-par, we ate like horses to make up the deficit.
Ligurian cuisine has gained international fame for products such as pesto, focaccia, olive oil, and white wine… however, the fresh products that are locally recognized are what really made an impression. We had plates of freshly grilled fish, simply prepared with a squeeze of lemon, delicious white wine, Sciacchettra (a dessert wine), and incredible artisan pasta. Haha are you hungry yet?
We also made a quick trip into Tuscany to see the production of a specialty product called Lardo di Colonata, made in the famous marble region of Tuscany, Lardo is basically large pieces of pork back fat cured in huge marble boxes (that looked like coffins) for 6 months in a bath of salt, garlic, rosemary, and a huge array of other spices. It was pretty heavy to eat but I never thought I’d enjoy a piece of plain lard as much as I did.. mmm gluttony.
For those of you backpacking travellers, I highly recommend coming to this area in the spring and summer seasons. I had to use my imagination to visualize what the city of Portovenere would be like with decent weather conditions, nice summer breeze, cold mojitos and suntans, unfortunately all I really knew was a deserted, windy, and rainy pirate town. Nonetheless, if you eat well, and are surrounded by breathtaking beauty, it becomes incredibly hard to complain.