Flavors of the valley
The hinterland of Liguria is a rugged land, full of fascinating locations, steep trails, streams tumbling from from smooth rocks and olive trees which give the landscape an even more archaic but softening air.
The poetry of the olive tree
The olive tree is pure poetry. The land here is very avaricious and the inhabitants have had to fight it by learning how to exploit it in the best way possible such as by planting olive trees and vineyards, turning the precious few areas which can be cultivated into prized orchards.
The gastronomy of this area has some fundamental basics; the olive oil made from the beloved olive trees, the cultivation of fruit and vegetable gardens and, most importantly, the use of aromatic herbs either picked from the wild or grown at home. These elements form a single, fragrant frame which encompasses all the dishes of the region.
The “king” basil
Of all the herbs used, basil is king with its intense green color and different flavor in Liguria than anywhere else. Of the other precious herbs we must remember the preboggion, a collection of wild herbs which includes chard, dandelion, borage, chervil, wild cappuccio, nettle and more. Blanched and drained well, these herbs are chopped and used in Ligurian ravioli commonly stuffed with ricotta cheese and meat. The origin of the name is uncertain: some go back to the journey from Genoa by Godfrey of Bouillon, whose soldiers went to search for food ‘pro Bouillon’.
And then … pesto, pine nut sauce, focaccia made of white flour, corn, whole wheat flour, farinata, panissa , pan martin, potato bread, Easter cake, stuffed vegetables … to name just a few.
The Vara Valley is also the Organic Valley and beyond fruit, vegetables and dairy products, organic honey is certainly one of the primary products of quality of the territory. The chestnuts of the Val di Vara produce wonderful flour which is present in many dishes, both sweet and savory, such as castagnaccio.
And ‘then we must take a look at the lesser known products, such as the ‘giant black of Italy’, a gigantic chicken bred in Liguria from 1929 specifically for the characteristics of the region. It can reach 4 kg in weight and is recognizable by its black plumage with elegant green tinges.
For a gastronomic journey every village or town offers so much to those who want to experience the local flavors and delicious food stores.