Delicacies of Corsica

This is an excerpt from Lonely Planet's guide to Corsica, highlighting the region's best cuisine.

Corsican cuisine owes its distinct characteristics to a host of factors. In particular, its Mediterranean location offers a wealth of raw materials: fragrant olive oils, sun-loving fruits and vegetables, and mouth-watering cured meats, easily and economically preserved in the Mediterranean heat.

1. Sanglier (wild boar).  Especially in long-simmering stews called civets or daubes in French or tiani in menu Corse. Sanglier is best eaten during the hunting seasons of autumn and winter.

2. Figatellu. Corsicans are renowned for their sausages and hams, whose particular flavour is derived from cochons coureurs (free-ranging pigs), which traditionally feed on chestnuts, acorns, and plants imbued with the fragrance of the maquis. From these herb-saturated porcines comes the figatellu, a thin liver sausage and Corsica’s pride.

3. Brocciu. Mild, crumbly and white, not a million miles from ricotta, Brocciu made from the petit-lait (whey) of either goat’s or ewe’s milk. Brocciu can be eaten fresh, as a creamy fromage frais, baked with the zest of oranges or cédrat (a sweeter type of lemon) in a fiadone cheesecake, or drained, salted and aged for use in savoury dishes. Be sure to try an omelette of Brocciu.

4. Snacks. The ‘sandwich Corse’ seen on many cafe menus is a panino (grilled sandwich, Italian style) filled with charcuterie and cheeses. Varieties include the Libecciu, the Stellu (according to the menu, ‘the most Corsican of panini’), the Velacu and the Astu. Equally handy if you’re on the hoof is the bastelle, a little rectangular wallet of pastry or dough, filled with onion, Brocciu cheese, or pumpkin.

5. Desserts. For dessert, try the wonderful fiadone (a light flan made with Brocciu, lemon and eggs), the calorie-loaded beignets au Brocciu (Brocciu fritters), the toothsome ambrucciata (tart with Brocciu) or the high-energy canistrelli (biscuits made with almonds, walnuts, lemon or aniseed).

6. Acquavita. Generally homemade and, at 45% alcohol by volume, is like rocket fuel. If at the end of dinner your server puts down a little plate with a couple of sugar cubes on it and an unlabelled bottle, pour a few drops from the bottle over the sugar cubes and suck them. This is a very old custom and a very good one.

This article was first published in February 2010 and was republished in June 2013.