The island of Corsica has an odd shape, think of a bunch of grapes held at the top by the stem. The tribe forms the wild and breathtakingly beautiful Cap Corse. The balance of the cluster is reflected in the enormously varied topography, mountain peaks (120 peaks over 2000 meters in height), river gorges, sandy beaches and lush plains. My husband and I were told by some friends that Corsica is like a mini France, offering a little bit of everything in a small space. Undoubtedly, the island offers the traveler a rich and tasty experience within its 1000 km of coastline. The Corsican people take great pride in their locally produced food and drink products. We felt compelled to sample a wide variety of the goods available during our stay.
The following is the ABC of Corsican offerings for the hungry and parched traveller:
domain arena – one of the best rated wines on the island with excellent red and white varieties. This winery is located in the Patrimonio region. They were one of the first vineyards to begin the arduous process of replanting classic Corsican grapes such as Biancu Gentile. The wine is made in an organic style and is delicious.
Brocciu – Cheese is made from the whey of sheep (Brebis) or goat’s milk. It has a texture similar to ricotta but is suitable for a lactose-free diet. Brocciu is considered one of the national dishes of Corsica. The cheese is remarkably versatile? It’s used in everything from beignets (donuts) to omelettes and pasta.
Châtaignes (chestnuts) – is considered the “Tree of Life” in Corsica. The tree is mentioned in Corsican records as early as the 13th century. However, studies have shown that the tree was present in Neolithic times. The tree flowers in May and June and the chestnuts are harvested in autumn (October and November). The fruits are dried, peeled, sorted, heated and finally ground into flour. The flour is sold everywhere and used in a variety of biscuits, cakes, breads and even a porridge called pulenda.
Bread of the Dead “Pain des Morts” – this sweet bread is a specialty of Bonifacio and surroundings. It consists of raisins and walnuts. The bread is available at all local bakeries and at the Tuesday morning market. Traditionally it was served on All Saints’ Day (Halloween), but now it can be found all year round.
aubergine – Obviously this isn’t native to Corsica, but a traveler would find it hard to miss the signs for Aubergines farcies à la Bonifacienne. A delicious vegetarian dish made with eggplant, bread, milk, cheese and eggs.
Le Fiadone – This is a Corsican cheesecake made with Brocciu cheese as a base. It is essentially a cheese flan suitable for gluten and dairy free diets as it is made without flour.
grapes – has existed in Corsica since the Phocaeans in 570 BC. From 1960 to the mid-1970s, the area under vines quadrupled the previous area. Today there are nine regions with a controlled origin (AOC) on the island with a total production of 13 million bottles. Production is usually done in micropackages. Many of the regions have marked “routes des vins” for thirsty, curious visitors.
honey – it would be difficult to say that this is a product with exclusively Corsican roots. Honey can be found in many regions of the world. What is unique are some of the flavors like chestnut and maquis.
enjoyment – countless choices of fresh seafood, tempting cakes, charcuterie and fresh fruit.
jam – It’s hard to say that jam was invented in Corsica. However, there is a sizeable industry centered around fruit growing and jam making. Some unique flavors include fig and nut, clementine and sweet chestnut.
main ingredients – the typical Corsican plants, herbs and flowers grow wild in the maquis or wild maquis. These ingredients greatly affect the taste of meat, cheese, honey and local dishes. Some of the typical plants of the maquis are rosemary, laurel, juniper, sage, thyme, mint, lavender, myrtle and many others. The strongly aromatic scent of the macchia is an important part of the island’s gastronomy.
lonzu – Pork loin
Muscat – a very popular grape variety in Corsica. The wine can be sweet or rather dry. There’s even a sparkling version. It is usually served as an aperitif.
hazelnuts – Although not as prominent as the chestnut, the hazelnut is a re-established crop. The nuts are used in honey, oils, flour and sweets.
olives – grow abundantly, as is usual in the Mediterranean climate, in Corsica the fruit is allowed to ripen on the tree. The ripe olives are collected by hand from November to January or in nets from February to May. The olives are processed into oil, soaps and other products.
Pompelo and Clementine – Citrus production in Corsica is generally located at the north end of the island. The citrus fruits are either consumed on the island or exported exclusively to France.
Essential – In the Mediterranean region it would be difficult to say that a food or product is unique to an area. Centuries of maritime trade in Corsica influenced the development of products and industries. What is unique about Corsica is that the island offers such a wide range of products due to the variety of terrain, altitude and long coastline.
rose – Nielluccio is the usual grape for rosé wines and one of the autochthonous grape varieties of Corsica.
Sciacarello – a red wine grape mainly from the Ajaccio region.
Tianu – a game stew.
U Korsu – the traditional language of Corsica, which sounds a bit like Italian.
Vermentinu – a dry white wine grape.
wild boar – is often served with Corsican red wines.
X extra special – The food in Corsica is similar to that of many countries around the Mediterranean. It is influenced by the climate, the sea and to a large extent by history. Admirable is the Corsican pride in producing goods that are “100% Corsican”.
Y surname – The traditional spelling of surnames in Corsica is the letter “i”. However, when the Corsicans arrived in Puerto Rico (from 1830), the Spanish wrote the names with the letter “y”.
cilia – a sparkling water, other popular brands are St Georges and Orezza
Enjoy your next trip to Corsica!!