The beauty of Italy is also made by what is on the dining table. No Italian region does not have some culinary specialties known throughout the world. Many define the Ligurian cuisine “poor”, meaning it is dull, second fiddle to other, more prestigious Italian culinary traditions. They couldn’t be more wrong because the “poor cuisine of Liguria” is anything but poor in variety and creativity. Liguria’s “poor cuisine” is not simple for several reasons.
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, Liguriaindeed presents a variety of dishes at least equal to that offered by other regions. Seafood and vegetables, meat and bread, come 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 meant in the economic sense. Not being lords, the vast majority of Ligurians 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 Ligurian cuisine is just pasta with pesto. Most of the time, among other things, they think of the pesto as a basil sauce and no garlic.
The reality is very different. From east to west and west to east, passing through Genoa and the hinterland, the Ligurian food, and wine 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, pancetta with walnut sauce (those who only talk about the pesto sauce, always forget the nut sauce), 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, a cake of vegetables etc.
The list is undoubtedly incomplete; who speaks of peasant cooking made of a single recipe can easily be updated during a few weekends.
3 – If you cannot taste the flavors, it’s not poor cuisine… you are missing something
Then some are unable to appreciate the dishes that have their own tastes and – for this – think the Ligurian cuisine is poor.
Not so. Ligurian cuisine is not poor in this sense; it is a genuine cuisine, enhancing the food flavor, which is 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 no-frills, sincere, defined, and of raw flavors.
Just like the land it is from, 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.