As we promised, here we are with the second yummy appointment with Slow Food Liguria: this time we speak about the incomparable, protected Ligurian fruits, whose cultivation survives in the Riviera and in the little hidden Valleys of the region.
Water of bitter orange blossoms
In Vallebona, a little Ligurian valley near the French board, the bitter orange found its ideal habitat, sunny and protected from cold. The economy of the valley was based on the cultivation and picking of orange blossoms to distill, a very painstaking work that women and girls usually did because they had little hands and could do this delicate operation better.
Water of orange blossoms was drunk for its healthy effect against stomach ache or used to wet “bugie” (sweet crisp pastry made during the Carnival period). All this occurred till the Fifties: then, this tradition went slowly lost and the distillery shut up shop, kneeling in front of the chemical industry, able to obtain artificial flavours and tastes low cost.
Slow Food Liguria wants the cultivations of bitter orange to return on the terraces of Vallebona, to recover the beautiful agricultural landscape lost years ago and to save the handcrafted production of this very scented water.
Apricot of Valleggia
It is simply unique: it is small, but it has the most intense aroma and flavour of all the types on the market. The apricot of Valleggia has a thin peel, a delicate orange shade with brick-red spots and it takes its name from the native cultivation land in the province of Savona. Its cultivation has been gradually abandoned because of the building boom and of the very high trees where it grows, that makes the pruning and the picking very hard. Today most of the production is on the coast between Loano and Varazze: Slow Food Liguria wants to protect the last cultivations of apricot and plant new trees in today abandoned areas.
Chinotto of Savona
It comes from China and today it is cultivated only on the coast between Varazze and Finale Ligure. Chinottos are little citrus fruits with a thick, scentend and fragrant peel and they can be eaten only candied or in syrup, because as fresh fruits they are too bitter. Slow Food Liguria wants to protect and continue its cultivation and to reintroduce the candied chinotto. You can taste the drink of the same name, known exactly as chinotto, but you must absolutely taste mostarda and marmelade of chinotto, that you can find in local markets, and at the end of your meal you can sip the sweet spirit of this typical citrus fruit that has remarkable digestive properties.
Dry chestnuts in “tecci” of Calizzano and Murialdo
In Val Bormida (Bromida Valley) it survives the old technique of the drying of chestnuts in “tecci”, little stone one-room buildings with shingle roof, where a ceiling of wooden trellis (a kind of grill) allows the heat and the smoke to reach the chestnuts. After the harvest, chestnuts are laid on the ceilings of wooden trellis in layers and a low and constant fire smokes them for about two months. During the Christmas period the “viette” are prepared, that is to say dry chestnuts boiled for 5 hours with their peel. Slow Food Liguria and some local craftsmen commit to using dry chestnuts to make cookies, preserves, creams and ice-creams. Thanks to this project the chestnuts give the local inhabitants new profitability and they promote a mountain area which is pretty interesting from a landscape and cultural point of view.