The cuisine of Calabria is culture and also economy.
This region exports Bergamot, olive oil and wine (Cirò and Donnici the most regarded qualities), the latter since ancient times, when Calabria was referred to as Enotria (from Ancient Greek Οἰνωτρία, Oenotria, “land of wine”).
These authentic mediterranean foods, especially wine, are deeply embodied in the same names and traces of ancient Greek tradition; for example Οἴνωτρος (Oenotrus, literally “the man coming from the land of wine”), the youngest of the sons of Lycaon, was the eponym of Oenotria.
Nowadays, the same vineyards, which have origins dating back to the ancient Greek colonists, are the best known DOC wines, internationally recognized like Cirò (Province of Crotone) and Donnici (Province of Cosenza). 3% of the total annual production qualifies as DOC. Other important grape varieties are the red Gaglioppo and white Greco.
This strong Calabrian tradition is linked to daily life, to actual gastronomy and to the exportation of Olive Oil and Bergamot. Many producers are resurrecting local, ancient grape varieties which have been around for as long as 3000 years. Often the same producers of wine, produce Bergamot and olive oil.
There is also a strong tie of such products with another authetic mediterranean food like sausages and dairy products of local cuisine, which are the main protagonists of a typical southern Italian Mediterranean cuisine with a balance between meat-based dishes (pork, lamb, goat), vegetables (especially eggplant), and fish.
Some local specialties include Caciocavallo Cheese, Cipolla rossa di Tropea (red onion), Frìttuli and Curcùci (fried pork), Liquorice (liquirizia), Lagane e Cicciari (a pasta dish with chickpeas), Pecorino Crotonese (Cheese of Sheep), and Pignolata.
We can not be silent about Pasta, which is also very important in Calabrian gastronomy. Typical Calabrian Pasta (so called “scilatelle”) also accompanies dishes of sausages and cold cuts (Sopressata, ‘Nduja, Capocollo), or plates of mediterranea fish – especially swordfish, sardines (sardelle rosamarina) and cod (Baccalà). In contrast to most other Italian regions, Calabrians have traditionally placed an emphasis on the preservation of pasta and sausages.
Finally, the cakes are a unique triumph of desserts, typically fried, honey-sweetened pastries, like Cudduraci, Nacatole, Scalille or scalidde or baked biscotti-type treats (such as ‘nzudda).