Salerno and its territory
The city of Salerno rises on the northern coast of the gulf of the same name, and its territory covers all the southtern portion of Campania, embracing the land bordered by the Lattari mountains (Sorrentina peninsula), by the Terminio to the north, the Lucano Apenines to the east and by the Tyrrhenian sea to the west.
Agriculture forms the economic basis for this region which is favoured by an excellent climate. The chief products are grain, wheat, corn, potatoes, vegetables, fruit, wine and oil. Livestock breeding also flourishes and includes cattle, buffaloes, sheep and horses.
The cuisine – even the more working class – as well as being based largely on fish products which provide exquisite dishes such as macaroni «capa e codes» (‘head and tails’), made up with the head and the tail of the large eel, enriched by the addition of tomato, garlic, rasins, pine-nuts and parsley, also includes dishes using dairy products and vegetables.
There is a considerable production of mozzarella made from buffalo milk; of particular interest is the type which is preserved in myrtle leaves. The «capriola» cheese is also worthy of note, a special type of robiola cheese made from pure, whole goats’ milk; it has a particularly strong flavour and is for consumption at a stage of medium maturity.
The vegetables are often eaten raw due to their excellent quality and the excellent oil which is produced in the Sorrentina peninsula which almost completely covered in olive trees. Well known since the Roman era, the oil from Campania today presents two characteristics: that produced from the traditional cultivations has a softer tone and a lighter fragrance; the oil produced from the relatively new plants, where varieties of olive have been introduced from Tuscany and Puglia, is a product which is more marked in its colour, flavour and fragrance.
Vegetables are used for preparing some excellent sauces for pasta which, also in this area, is a dish which is ever present. They are also used in many special and tasty dishes such as «sweet peppers stuffed with aubergines». An old recipe suggests the following ingredients: eight large sweet peppers, five hundred grams (1 lb 2 oz)of aubergines, two hundred grams (7 oz) of breadcrumbs, fifty grams (2 oz) of capers, one hundred grams (3 ˝ oz) of black olives, two hundred grams (7 oz) of oil, salt, pepper, parsley, oregano and a clove of garlic finely chopped; these are used as follows: cut the aubergines into one centimetre (1/2 inch) pieces. Fry the aubergines in one hundred grams (3 ˝ oz) of oil without browning them too much; drain off the oil and keep the remaining oil to one side. Toast and peel the sweet peppers. Prepare a mixture with the aubergines, the breadcrumbs, the salt, the pepper, the desalted capers, the stoned olives, the finely chopped garlic, the parsley and the basil. Open up the sweet peppers and lay them flat on the table; on each one put a small heap of the stuffing and roll them up, securing with a toothpick. Arrange them, then, in a greased oven dish, one beside the other and sprinkle with the oil previously leftover from the frying (about one hundred grams – 3 ˝ oz). Cook in a hot oven for fifteen minutes; at this point, turn each of the peppers over and then return to the oven, continuing to cook until the peppers have browned a little. They should be served warm or cold. They keep very well for a few days in the fridge; in fact, they will even improve with the wait.
The cakes and desserts are the same ones which are widespread in the whole region, whereas this area can boast some very special types of liqueur. One such is the «limoncello», for which the splendid lemons of the coast are used, and which has today become very fashionable everywhere. Another is «il concerto», a digestive produced based on a recipe of an old monastery from the area around Amalfi.