Sunday, September 9, 2007

Coriscan food

There's so much to write about since I've been in Italy, including many of the meals I've had here, but I'd like to use this post to describe the week I've just spent in Corsica before I forget too much of the wonderful food I ate there. As it is not a common destination for American tourists, traveling in Corsica meant a few things for me: 1) the food wasn't very Americanized , which was great (although it was probably still standardized to French or Italian cuisines more than was necessary); 2) I didn't hear very much English, and figuring out the menus was sometimes difficult; 3) much of the local food simply doesn't have an English translation, and the best I could do was to guess that something was "some type of Mediterranean fish (i.e.)". That being said, I spent a week eating some amazing things.

Most of the restaurants Loris and I dined at served various "tourist menus", meaning they had several fixed price menus consisting of several courses that were much cheaper than buying each course individually. While in some cases this could be a bit limiting, and also indicated that we may not necessarily be eating 100% authentically, it was great because we could afford to eat multi-course meals and by each taking different menus and then sharing, we could sample twice the variety of food. Most of the time, this worked out great for us.

One of my favorite first courses was the soup de poisson, a local dish of Southern France, but also of Corsica. It's a soup made with fish and vegetables and then pureed and served with toasted baguette slices, rouille, and sometimes Swiss cheese (gruyere). You spread the rouille (a sort of orange, spicy aoili) on the toasted bread, dunk it in the soup, and sprinkle cheese on top. It's delicious, but apparently difficult to make as you have to pass it through a food mill several times. I'm thinking I'll try making a big batch of it and freezing it. Or finally getting the pressure canner I've been wanting so I can can it.

Other memorable first course dishes were the salade de chevre chaud, which is, I think, more typical of France than Corsica, Bonifacienne eggplants (roasted and stuffed with some sort of brocciu cheese mixture - similar to ricotta), and stuffed zucchini (with a similar mixture, including what Loris thought was mint). In addition, we ate a lot of fish. The sole was in general a bit disappointing, I think we only had it once at the worst restaurant we ate at overall. I also got cannelloni with brocciu, and Loris got a sampler dish that included wild boar, cannelloni, lasagne, stuffed zucchini, and tripe. Good stuff!

Our last courses were always excellent. Corsican cheese is good stuff, especially the goat cheese, often served with fig jam. Delicious! Desserts included a sort of light chestnut cake, chocolate mousse, and a brocciu torte.

There's so much more to write about, including the food we've had in Italy, and my plans for my winter garden, that I must stop here. But thankfully, I bought a cookbook of Corsican cuisine, and I'm really looking forward to trying it, if I can find the necessary ingredients.

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