3 reasons why the Ligurian cuisine is not a simple one

Acciughe fritte e vino, semplicce aperitivo

Measured in condiments and mild in flavor, the Ligurian cuisine is called “cucina povera” by those who misunderstands it, as simplicity is actually its wealth.

The beauty of Italy is also made by what it can put on the table: there is no Italian region that does not have some culinary specialties known throughout the world. In many, especially those used to strong flavors, define “poor” the Ligurian cuisine, meaning that it is dull, not rich in variety, and second fiddle to other culinary traditions. They couldn’t be more wrong, because the “poor cuisine of Liguria” is anything but poor in variety and creativity. The “poor cuisine” of Liguria is not a simple cooking for a few well-identified reasons.

Here they are:
1 – “Poor cuisine” does not mean “poor cooking”
When talking about “poor cuisine” it does not certainly mean poor in varieties, flavors, and raw materials. Sandwiched between the mountains and the sea, the Ligurian cuisine indeed offers a variety of dishes at least equal to that offered by other regions. In Liguria, there are seafood specialties and land, fish and vegetables, meat and bread in various shapes. When talking about “poor cuisine” we mean “full of wit”, because with ingredients of limited cost (at least once) it manages to pull off wonders.
Reported to the Ligurian cuisine, “poor” is to be understood in the economic sense: not being lords, the vast majority of Ligurian of yore used to cook with inexpensive ingredients.





2 – Who says “Yes, but there are only two recipes!” is greatly mistaken
Who says so, usually, means that the Ligurian cuisine is just pasta with pesto. Most of the time, among other things, they think the pesto as a basil sauce and no garlic (ed. Impossible to make pesto without garlic ).
The reality is very different. From east to west and from west to east, passing through Genoa and to the hinterland, the Ligurian food and wine can be put recipes and dishes on the table from appetizers to desserts to satisfy all tastes.
Let’s try this: pickled olives, focaccia, focaccia with cheese, cake pasqualina, salt cod fritters, zucchini, pansotti with walnut sauce (those who only talk about the pesto sauce, always forget the nut sauce), the green sauce, ravioli, Mescciüa, Ligurian minestrone, cod, buridda, cappon magro, the Ligurian rabbit, the Cima, the panigacci, the testaroli, the sgabei, stuffed muscles, porridge, stuffed squid, marinated anchovies, anchovies in scabecio, stuffed anchovies, rice cake, cake of vegetables etc etc.
The list is certainly not exhaustive: who speaks of peasant cooking made of a single recipe can easily be updated during of a few weekends.

3 – If you cannot taste the flavors, it’s not the poor cuisine… you are missing something

Then there are those who are unable to appreciate the dishes that have their own tastes and – for this – think that the Ligurian cuisine is a poor cuisine.
Not so: the Ligurian cuisine is not poor in this sense, it is a sincere cuisine.
The Ligurian cuisine is based on the exaltation of the flavor of the food, and considers it more important than the seasoning.
The fish should taste like fish, the meat like meat, the focaccia like focaccia and so on.
The Ligurian cuisine is a no frills, it is clear, precise and of raw flavors.
Just as the land from which it comes and those who have formed over time, the Ligurian cuisine is not sold for what it is not.
Do not call it “poor cuisine” meaning “poor cooking” and we can get along.

Spezzino Vero



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