Regione Calabria: Indulge in culinary wellness

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Published: Tue 26 Apr 2022, 1:09 PM

Last updated: Tue 26 Apr 2022, 1:11 PM

Calabria, the birthplace of the Mediterranean diet and Magna Graecia, is home to excellent food and a source of good health

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Usually, it is the metropolitan verve that feeds on speed, technology and deadlines to be met. That’s why people have always dreamt of finding an idyllic place to rebalance, get back in touch with nature and all it offers, and live life to its fullest. The region of Calabria, the gem of the Mediterranean, is nestled between the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas. It is as close as possible to this concept of paradise. A rich land, still largely uncontaminated and undiscovered, it contains one of the greatest heritages of agro-food excellence and biodiversity on the planet. An extraordinary range of vegetables, fruit and even rare produce, not to mention the over 350 grape varieties that have disappeared elsewhere, flourish in Calabria.

Throughout history, even the fiercest and strongest couldn’t conquer or bend Calabria. Large inland areas were completely protected and isolated for centuries, preserving their uniqueness and original qualities. It is no coincidence that Calabria is the cradle of the Mediterranean diet, today recognised by UNESCO. The Mediterranean diet overflows with cereals, legumes, fish, extra virgin olive oil, vegetables, fruit, and especially delicious local herbs and spices, such as rosemary, parsley and basil. At the same time, it is low in meat, sugar, butter and animal fats. It is a basket of genuine and indigenous goodness that feeds a healthy lifestyle.

Olives at a local market
Olives at a local market

In Calabria in the so-called ‘Borghi del Benessere’ (wellness villages) people eat well, live better and longer: day after day Calabria holds its title as a land of long life, custodian of an appreciated and envied agri-food treasure, a living and vital testimony of tradition and culture that draws on the past to grow in the future, in a horizon of shared wellbeing. Calabrian products brim with pride. They are also precious allies against diseases. Top of the list is extra virgin olive oil — the essence of Mediterranean culture and tradition, the green gold of Calabria.

Porcini Mushrooms
Porcini Mushrooms

The land’s lush fruits include the fragrant and famous red onion of Tropea PGI to the sweet Cosenza Figs PDO, the tenacious Sila Potato PGI. Second, on the Calabrian food pyramid, a perfect expression of the Silan mountains where they originate, is the ruddy Belmonte tomato. And then, the iconic and red-hot Calabrian chilli pepper that tantalises even the most demanding palates. And not to be forgotten so many wheat varieties, specialities such as Acconia Strawberries or Porcini Mushrooms, along with aromatic herbs like oregano, with a powerful and particular value.

Legumes are great protagonists of a healthy diet, led by Mediterranean varietals: tasty Carìa beans, sweet and mellow, are unique to Calabria.

The cities and surrounding areas of Cosenza and the Mormanno treasure small, pink lentils — very different from the most known varieties and for this reason widely studied and coveted.

Citrus fruit has its own separate chapter. Bright and boisterous, in a palette of exceptional colours that anticipate the ecstatic taste sensation: Wonders such as Bergamot of Reggio Calabria, from which PDO essential oil is extracted, the Lemon of Rocca Imperiale PGI, the Calabrian Clementine PGI, the fragrant, precious and ancient Citron from the Riviera, and juicy oranges.

The region’s heavenly backdrop is the sea. To be precise, the two seas of Calabria overflow with a variety of delights and healthy goodness — all to the good fortune of the region and its inhabitants. Swordfish, caught near the coast between Scilla, Bagnara and Palmi, and Tuna, typical from the Vibo Valentia province, particularly the town of Pizzo Calabro.

Stockfish and Baccalà, especially in the areas of Mammola and Cittanova, in the province of Reggio Calabria. Bluefish, the real pillar of the Mediterranean diet — fished abundant throughout the Calabrian sea — small in size, but with incomparable organoleptic qualities, packed with abundant Omega 3 and unsaturated fats, vital for health.

Alongside recommended foods for frequent consumption, including Sibari rice, Calabria also indulges with greater moderation. But the same authentic freshness remains.

A bouquet of cheeses abound, like Caciocavallo Silano PDO and Pecorino Crotonese PDO, together with special delicacies such as Pecorino del Monte Poro, Caciocavallo di Ciminà, Musulupu, with mixed sheep’s and goat’s milk, and Pecorino del Pollino, produced in the area of the natural park of the same name.

No self-respecting host or hostess serves a banquet without bread and cakes — a triumph of handmade goodness. For the grand finale, Licorice of Calabria PDO, Calabrian Honey, the Torrone di Bagnara PGI (traditional Calabrian nougat), the Pizzo Truffle, ice cream with a soft interior, and other specialities such as Mostaccioli di Soriano Calabro (seasonal cookies of Greek origins made with flour and honey), party sweets such as Pitta ‘mpigliata (filled with dried fruit, nuts and honey) and Turdilli (covered with blond, Calabrian honey).

Bucket list

Take a culinary journey through Calabria and get enchanted by not just the food but also the landscape, history and culture of the land.

Riviera dei Cedri

From the coastal towns of Diamante to Praia a Mare, between the brilliant green of the valleys and the cerulean of the glistening sea, stretches this strip of land, named after the citrus fruit that colours and perfumes the entire surrounding area.

Land of contrasts

From hilltop hamlets of Civita to Morano Calabro, discover where the sea and mountains outline the contours of uncontaminated beauty. The region’s various civilisations and craftsmanship, folklore and traditions deeply influenced the territory’s character.

Lesser-known gems

The Alto Ionio Cosentino is one of the most surprising places in Calabria. Among archaeological ruins, ancient castles, pristine ‘blueflag’ beaches and lush countryside, this area is ideal to immerse yourself in the wildest Calabria.

'Paradiso del Sub’ beach
'Paradiso del Sub’ beach

Ancient beauty

Cities like Crotone and Cosenza are the embodiment of Calabria’s many historical wonders. And thanks to green temples like the Sila National Park, captivates with its naturalistic and landscape richness.

Costa degli Dei

From the seaport of Pizzo Calabro to the town of Nicotera, find bewitching coastlines, with candid beaches, crystal clear waters and seabed full of wondrous life forms, surrounded by towns and villages that merit more than just one visit.

Little paradise

For time immemorial, the coastal stretch between Palmi and Bagnara was named Costa Viola (Purple Coast) by virtue of the amethyst shade of its marine waters. The seabed of this coastline hides archaeological and natural treasures of inestimable value.

Southern splendour

From Bivongi to the Gulf of Squillace, amidst lush nature and a breath-taking seabed, stretches Calabria’s southernmost coast, where the scent of the sea breeze is lost in the sweet floral aroma that gives it its name: the Costa dei Gelsomini (Jasmine Coast), encompassing 42 municipalities that range from low, sandy beaches to spectacular, sheer cliffs.

Calabria Region comes to the UAE

Institutional stand of Calabrian Region. Mauro Marzocchi with Paola Aloe, Manager of Calabria Region
Institutional stand of Calabrian Region. Mauro Marzocchi with Paola Aloe, Manager of Calabria Region

Widening the trade relations, the region is facilitating and promoting F&B and startup sectors

The project was born from the collaboration between the Italian Chamber of Commerce in the UAE, the Calabria Region, and Confartigianato Imprese Calabria to internationalise Calabrian companies willing to approach the Emirates market. The two sectors involved in this project are food and beverage, and StartUp.

The main objective of the project was to promote the activities of companies and StartUp operating in the Calabria Region in the UAE. In particular, facilitating opportunities for development and institutional and economic collaboration, a greater knowledge of the opportunities granted by the market of reference, increase the knowledge of Calabrian companies on how to approach the UAE market, to start and consolidate trade relations.

The Project activities for F&B sector included:

1. Presence at the fair "Speciality Food Festival" at the Dubai World Trade Centre with a stand for 19 Calabrian companies. Three days were dedicated exclusively to a professional audience from the Gulf Area, Africa and Asia.

2. Referent manager in Dubai for six months dedicated to the promotion of companies.

3. Cooking show: During the days of the fair, Michelin-starred chefs and restaurateurs from Dubai presented their creations, also making use of the companies' products.

4. Use of the Representative Office at the Chamber to provide an initial guarantee to local buyers for six months.

5. B2B platform for six months used as a 'launching pad' to present the companies of the project in the Gulf Area: UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait.

The Italian Chamber of Commerce in the UAE is a reference point for Italian companies, and thanks to the consolidated relationships with local distributors and operators, it supports development, provides adequate support to Italian companies, and promotes opportunities for institutional and economic collaboration and greater knowledge of the UAE market.

Within this project, one of the key activities has been the participation of 19 companies from the Calabria Region at the 'The Specialty Food Festival', which was held from November 9-11, 2021 at the Dubai World Trade Centre. It provided the opportunity for Calabrian companies to exhibit typical regional products of the highest quality and have an individual stand.

The booths were located in the Calabria area within Zabeel Hall four, Italian area — Italian Chamber of Commerce in the UAE.

Three days were dedicated exclusively to a professional audience coming not only from the Gulf Area but also from Africa and Asia.

Commercial operators from more than 33 countries have attended the exhibition, among them, distributors, importers, chefs and managers of local restaurants and bars.

The commercial operators who attended were more than 15,000.

During the exhibition, Italian and International chefs independently selected products directly from the stands adhering to the project for their cooking shows. Many buyers and distributors showed great interest in products belonging to the various categories, asking for more information and searching for direct contact with companies.

After the exhibition, the Italian Chamber of Commerce set up an exhibition space at its headquarters located Downtown where distributors and catering professionals were invited so that they could acquire samples and hold in-depth meetings on the products.

The companies who exhibited at the food festival were the following:

Astorino Pasta (dry pasta) – Z4 C 43

Agricola Brittelli Elisabetta (oil) – Z4 C 60

Dolce Passione (confectionery products) – Z4 C 63

Agricola Spes (agricultural products) – Z4 C 65

Gruppo Oleario Portaro Srl (oil, pizza, tomato sauce) – Z4 C 52

Calabrian Pasta (fresh pasta) – Z4 C 56

Forte srl (artisanal dry pasta) – Z4 C 66

Gioda’ di Giovanna Conforti (jams, juices, sauces) – Z4 C 62

GRICAF srl (coffee) – Z4 C 51

Gruppo Muraca (preserves and jams) – Z4 C 35

Medi Mais Calabria srl (juices) – Z4 C 57

Mediterranea Foods (preserves, pasta e oil) – Z4 C 45

Oleifici Sita’ srl (oil) – Z4 C 43

Romano srl (products based on liquorice roots) – Z4 C 36

Salpa srl (sauces and preserves) – Z4 D 64

Salumificio La Vigna (salami) – Z4 C 64

Coop. Casearia Silana (dairy products) – Z4 C 61

Sa. S.r.l. salumificio (halal salami) – Z4 C 44

Tenuta Morgante (preserves) – Z4 D 42

Startup series

The Startup represented the planning activity for the future of Italy for the Italian economy. The Italian government itself has settled a series of policies to facilitate the development of these companies. The Calabria Region too has put particular attention to the startup reality in its regional planning. The Italian Industry and Commerce Office in the UAE believe that sustaining the Calabrian startup in these projects could build a great development even of the Calabrian economy.

The Calabrian StartUp will have the opportunity to present and show their innovative products and services during the year 2022 through the presentation of the IICUAE at the headquarter of one of the best incubators of Startup in the Emirates.

The Startup will be pre-selected by the region at hand and by Confartigianato with the help of the IICUAE following some specific criteria of selection that will be oriented through the sectors and criteria chosen by the incubator.

After having been chosen, the Startup will have the opportunity to participate in the selection made by the incubator to make use of their services of both development and incubation.

Calabria history

Byzantime temple
Byzantime temple

The region is a fascinating fusion of hundreds of miles of scenic coastline with mountainous hinterland — the imposing Pollino chain in the North, the Sila forested plateau at the centre and the Serre and Aspromonte chains in the South. The mountains being so near to the sea, the rivers, called 'fiumare', are very short and stay dry for most of the year.

Capo Colona, Calalbria
Capo Colona, Calalbria

Antiquity and the Middle Ages

In the 8th century BC Calabria became a colony of the Greeks, who founded the cities of Reggio Calabria, Sibari and Crotone. In the 4th century BC, the region was occupied by the Bruttii, who during the Punic wars sided with Hannibal against the Romans. In 132 BC, it was conquered by the Romans and included in the Third Region as Brutium, while the name Calabria was used only for the Salento Peninsula.

After the Roman Empire was split into Western and Eastern (with capital Byzanthium), Calabria stayed under the Byzanthines until the Lombards occupied it in the 7th century AD. In 885, Byzanthine General Niceforo Foca defeated Lombards and Saracens recovering the region. Later on it was conquered by the Normans (1060), then by the Swabians, the Anjou and the Aragonese.

From 15th Century onwards

Against the Aragonese domination there were peasants' riots in 1459 and a famous rebellion led by Tommaso Campanella in 1599. he 19th century saw the rise of patriot movements (the Carboneria) and riots, until in 1860 the population rose to support Garibaldi after he landed with his 'red shirts' at Melito against Spanish occupation.

As all the Kingdom of Naples, Calabria was then united to the newly established Kingdom of Italy. The decades that followed saw an increase in poverty and emigration, also due to the great disparity between the rich industrial regions of Northern Italy and the agricultural, poorer South.

Operazione finanziata dal Piano di Azione e Coesione (PAC) Calabria 2014/2020 — Asse 3 "Competitività dei sistemi produttivi" — Obiettivo specifico 3.4 Incremento del livello di internazionalizzazione dei Sistemi Produttivi

Calabrian Enterprises in Dubai

Beauty of Calabria

Surf through the picturesque landscape in the region that leaves a lasting impression on its visitors.

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