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The secrets of Liguria's cuisine

Local diet is basically Mediterranean, with olive oil, vegetables and herbs giving flavour to simple and traditional dishes which are both healthy and well-balanced

The secrets of Liguria's cuisine

Claudia Astarita

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The triumph of Liguria's characteristics products is above all a triumph of colours and aromas: fragrant herbs, vegetables from the market garden and hillsides, the infinite shades of green and grey of the olive olives and oil.

Ligurian cookery, which is traditionally based on "humble" ingredients, exploits the flavours of the land and the sea with elegant simplicity. The Ligurian diet is basically Mediterranean, with olive oil, vegetables and herbs giving flavour to simple and traditional dishes which are both healthy and well-balanced.

Pesto is generally considered as the Ambassador of Ligurian cuisine abroad. This magical sauce unites in a variable blend, for which no definitive recipe exists, the fragrance of basil, garlic, parsley, pine nuts and cheese, all bound together by olive oil. Among Ligurian sauces, it is worth mentioning also aggiada (garlic and fresh breadcrumbs, served with fried fish and boiled vegetables), and marò (finely chopped raw broad beans with cheese, garlic, oil and aromatic mint).

Well-known traditional dishes include buridda, a fish soup, and cima, meat stuffed with vegetables and herbs. Salt cod and stockfish are also used in many recipes. There are unique tastes, such as that of the simple and popular focaccia and farinata, giving an aroma that fills the air ar every street corner and tempts passers-by to have a tasty snack between meals.

Inland, mushrooms are widely appreciated. Cooked alla genovese, that is in the pan with potatoes, garlic and basil, or coated in breadcrumbs and fried, at the right time of the year they are well worth making a trip for, at least to a local trattoria.

Liguria's most famous cake is the pandolce genovese, made with butter, candied peel and raisins, found on tables throughout Italy together with the Panettone from Milan. Equally well known are amaretti biscuits from Sassello, gobelletti from Rapallo and the biscuits of Legaccio. Canestrelli, traditional butter biscuits, are found throughout the province of Genoa, and are particularly good in Torriglia, Montebruno and Acquasanta.

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