The coast and the inlands, the sea and the hills are faces of the same coin, two souls that in Liguria coexist perfectly together and that you can notice in every aspect of the life of its inhabitants and their way of living.
The cuisine of this region makes no exception: it is simple in one way, poor and typical of farmers’ villages, in other ways is very peculiar, refined and unique, thanks to the mix of traditions that represents. The Ligurian dishes include ingredients that are locally produced as the preboggion ( a mix of wild herbs), as well as products that are imported from the areas that for centuries have been connected to Liguria thanks to the frequent commercial contacts (for example the pecorino sardo cheese, one of the ingredients that is needed to make the pesto sauce).
It is a poor cuisine, made of simple and cheap ingredients. The rarity of grazing lands led the Ligurian people to develop vegetables and fish dishes, and only afterwards it was add wild game: so you can find wild but also cultivate herbs seasoning, from which Pesto emerge, which is use as sauce to season the pasta and to add flavor to Minestrone ( a vegetable soup). Typical of this cuisine are also vegetables pie, the most famous is torta pasqualina prepared for the classic trip that is tradition to make the Easter Monday; the filling are very important as well for example the one inside the cima ( beef meat filled with vegetables ,eggs, herbs, peas, carrots) or the one inside tasty shellfish as mussels. Moreover there are the focacce , well know is the one filled with cheese, typical of Recco.
The Ligurian cuisine is unique also because it has been mixed with flavours of distant lands, thanks to the contacts made with the trade market and the conquest during the centuries. An example of this contamination are the spices, here they are common from a very long time. The salt has been used to conserve food, and it is extremely important in this culinary tradition. This is why they normally use glass jar called “arbanelle” to preserve food. They usually prepare mushrooms in oil, jams, honey, anchovies in salt and for sure pesto.
The sea plays an important role in this cuisine, as you can imagine. The fish that it offers it is consumed as main dish or as seasoning for pasta. An example is given by the shellfish, the Ligurian mussels: you can taste them “alla marinara” with just a sprinkle of lemon, but also to make sauce combine with spaghetti pasta, “red” with tomatoes or “white” without it.
These are some of the dishes that you could taste in Liguria: Gnocchi pasta made of potatoes and trofie pasta with pesto, “pansoti” ( similar to ravioli filled with aromatic herbs), ravioli di mare (with fish), spaghetti allo scoglio (with shellfish and without tomato sauce in Liguria), torta pasqualina a pie made with chards phyllo dough (with should have 33 layers as the Jesus Christ years) and boiled eggs, pesto sauce, green sauce (pine nuts, capers and olives) and nuts sauce, rabbit Ligurian style with olives, cima ripiena, anchovies with filling, vegetables with filling, salted codfish fritters, farinata made with chickpea and focaccia.
Finally would not be a bad idea to drink Sciacchetrà, typical Cinque Terre’s wine while eating some Canestrelli biscuits.