Soul food of Corsica

Nicolas Stromboni, looks at the Med island’s food heritage and some of its celebrated meat and vegetables. He also selects three recipes perfect for this time of year

The island’s richness in meat products often makes you forget the seafood – wrongly, by the way. We say that Corsicans are above all meat-eaters, which is fair but simplistic, because even though the mountains and immense forests did nourish and shelter Corsicans from danger for many years, that hasn’t been true for at least a century.

Of course, the distinctive topography of the island does lend itself to different modes of raising animals, and the Corsican does remain above all a herder rather than a sailor.

It’s the ewes and cows that often find their place on the plains and in the hills. The sheep aren’t generally raised for meat, but the importance of Christmas and Easter celebrations encourages herders to raise lambs specifically for these occasions.

For cattle, it’s the opposite: there are breeds raised for meat, which are well acclimatised to the sometimes difficult environment. We primarily raise calves for veal, which remains the most commonly eaten red meat product. We never raise cattle to become adults, unless they’re for breeding, because of the modest resources available for nourishing them and the lack of suitable pasture. For this reason, you’ll see very few steers.

In the mountains, the space is occupied more by goats and pigs, although a number of small Corsican cows are still found there. The goats provide much-appreciated kids, and the pigs supply fresh meat during slaughtering times. It is still quite rare to eat pork out-side of this time, and that’s a shame because the flesh is firm and the taste assertive.

Poultry and rabbits are still raised ...

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