The Pesto Sauce: a serious matter, intangible cultural heritage

This week, Liguria unfolds a long green carpet, stretching all along the Riviera, to promote the Pesto Sauce as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage of humanity

A green masterpiece, a joy for the eyes and the watering mouth, green gold that grows in your hands when you mix of a few, simple, fresh elements. The Pesto sauce is simplicity in the kitchen, in the best Italian tradition, that joins everyone in a journey of tasting pleasure. Liguria in Italy is the cradle of this unique sauce known all over the world as Genoese Pesto, which boasts thousands of imitations and despises industrially embossed versions. That is because in Liguria grows the basil plant that is told to be the best to make pesto: a small leaf plant full of aroma. It grows specifically in Pra’ (which means prato, meadow, lea), a small town close to Genova, but can be found in everywhere in Liguria, taking its unmistakable flavor from the mix of sea and woods surrounding the basil plantation.

A magical union that is in itself the recipe of the Pesto sauce, together with the practice of beating the ingredients the right way.

“Pesto” means “beaten”, and it refers to the act of grinding the basil and the other ingredients until they turn into the smooth sauce that embraces evry kind of pasta but specially gnocchi, linguine, trofie and, in the area of the Cinque Terre, the testaroli. You should do it in a marble mortar with a wooden pestle, and start by grinding down the salt, which should be the large kind. That is, because when you add the basil leaves (washed and dried), these will remain bright green. Let’s start from the beginning:
  • 100 gr. ligurian basil leaves
  • 40 gr. Pine nuts
  • 100 gr. grated parmesan
  • 20 gr. pecorino cheese
  • 100 gr. extra virgin olive oil from the Ligurian Riviera
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
  • 6 gr. large sea salt
In the mortar, mix the garlic and  the salt, while beating them. It is important that the leaves do not knead at the bottom of the mortar, but on its walls, mixing in a rotary direction, slowly and gently. After the basil, put the pine nuts and the two cheeses. Finally add the oil, drop by drop. To keep it: Pour it in the jars and let it rest for a couple of hours open, covered with a sheet of greaseproof paper. When the oil has risen to the surface, isolating the pesto from the air, close vigorously, if necessary, add a little more oil. The pesto thus obtained will remain for a few months even if the characteristic green will start to darken a little.


“Basil, pine nuts, parmesan, pecorino cheese, garlic, oil, salt. None of them will be a candidate to become UNESCO heritage: only Pesto. Because the whole is superior to the sum of the parts”

That’s what “God” tweeted today, as the Liguria Region campaign spreads all over the country, trying to lead attention on the application of the Pesto sauce as intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

Basilico, pinoli, parmigiano, pecorino, aglio, olio, sale. Nessuno di loro sarà candidato a diventare patrimonio UNESCO: solo il Pesto. Perché il Tutto è superiore alla somma delle parti.#orgogliopesto

— Dio (@Dio) 12 marzo 2018
And he is not the only one (although probably the most important one): the campaign is an important matter, bringing cities to organize events to “beat and sign” for the petition, with the hashtag #orgogliopesto (pesto pride). Fairs, stands and culinary happenings celebrate the green sauce all over Liguria during this week. In La Spezia and Cinque Terre area, it will be possible to sign the petition at the upcoming S. Joseph Fair, in Piazza Europa, but stands will be present also in Lerici, Monterosso, Portovenere, Riccò del Golfo, Deiva Marina, Sarzana and others.



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