Southern Italy is all about olive oil. In fact, the best olive oil comes from this region, though very little of it is exported. While citrus fruits, fields of durum wheat for pasta, and vineyards also dot the landscape, the sea is harvested to its fullest for tuna, anchovies, clams and sea urchins.
The food of Campania is in many ways the food of Italy. So many of the dishes that are native to the region have been adopted by much of the world. The volcanic soils of Campania grow some of the best produce in Italy, including San Marzano tomatoes, peaches, grapes, apricots, and figs. Parmigiano Reggiano has found its way into the region’s recipes, with meat and vegetable dishes served alla Parmigiano. Seafood is a staple of Campania’s coastline with fish fried in olive oil. The standout wines of Campania include the reds Taurasi and Vesuvio, and whites Lacryma Christi and Greco di Tufo.
Puglia, Basilicata, and Calabria
Few places are able to turn out perfectly roasted, baked and grilled meats like southern Italy. Lamb, beef and kid (young goat) are always on the menu in most kitchens here, and pork is popular for making local salami. The city of Caranzaro in Calabri is home to N’duja, a soft spicy salami that is somewhat similar to andouille sausage. Along the coast, mussels, oysters, octopus, red mullet appear in countless dishes. Look out for red wines like Castel del Monte, Primitvo and Salice Salentino as they’re an incredible value.
The Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, and Spanish have all left their mark on Sicily’s cuisine which often includes lemons, blood oranges, tangerines, olives, almonds, and prickly pears grown right on the island. Simple and straightforward, Sicilian cooking allows each ingredient to shine through. Seafood is at the height of perfection with popular dishes including grilled swordfish or snapper, finocchio con le sarde (fennel with sardines) and sepia (cuttlefish) served in its own black sauce with pasta. The island’s best known meat dish, vitello al marsala (veal marsala) is often enjoyed alongside Marsala wine.
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