Winner of the James Beard/ KitchenAid Cookbook of the Year 2000 and Winner of the Beard Award for the Best Writing on Food 2000.
February 2, 2023
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Mangia Bene

Corsica is an integral part of France, a large island south of Provence and north of the Italian island of Sardinia. But Corsica’s historic isolation has meant a more insular culture than one finds in France and a wish for independence among a potion of the population. Not only is Corsica an island, but every pieve (canton) on this island is an island within an island, having no contact with the next valley over the mountain. The people of Cruzzini, Bocognano, and Bastelica, villages that lie behind Ajaccio, consider each other foreigners. This is reflected in the cuisine, for one finds both pork lard and olive oil as the essential cooking fat, when normally in traditional societies it’s one fat or another, not both. These were closed economies in the Middle Ages, although some trade escaped as the Corsican pievi exchanged goods with the outside world through their shepherds and might barter pigs and chestnuts for oil, fabric, or money.

The food of Corsica is simple and some would say primitive.  Take cheese-making for example: many cheeses don't have names and are simply known as fromage.  The Italian influence is as strong as the French as we see in the soups which are called, interchangeably, soupe or minestra.

Corsica is a mountainous island and shepherding is still a major occupation.  Goat and lamb dishes predominate and chestnuts were made into bread flour in the Middle Ages.  One of the most celebrated charcuterie found in Corsica is pasticciu di meruli, a blackbird pâté served as an appetizer.

For more on Corsica, also see Corsica and Its Food