The treasures of the Terra di Lavoro (Land of Work)
Campania's food and wine tradition is one of rich influences and a protected symbol of excellence throughout the world.
To the gourmet tourist, this land, already called "felix" by the Latins because of its abundance, will offer hundreds of dishes and typical products, each one unique and special, able to evoke and tell images and stories that are embedded in the common experience of an entire population.
Land of the Mediterranean Diet
Campania can boast of the excellence of several products awarded with DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) and IGP (Typical Geographical Indication) classifications. The first refers to products whose specific qualities are all inextricably linked to a precise geographical environment; the second refers to a single characteristic of the product, which is always linked to a specific area.
Typical examples of DOP products from Campania are buffalo mozzarella, caciocavallo podolico and provolone del Monaco, which are just three of the main jewels representing a very rich cheese production.
In terms of wines, the region can now boast a total of 15 DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) and 4 DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) wines, making a total of 19 DOPs, as well as 10 other IGPs. The DOP/DOCG are Taurasi, Greco di Tufo, Fiano di Avellino and Aglianico del Taburno; while the DOP/DOC are Ischia, Capri, Vesuvio, Cilento, Falerno del Massico, Castel San Lorenzo, Aversa, Penisola Sorrentina, Campi Flegrei, Costa d'Amalfi, Galluccio, Sannio, Irpinia, Casavecchia di Pontelatone, Falanghina del Sannio. The IGPs are Colli di Salerno, Dugenta, Epomeo, Paestum, Pompeiano, Roccamonfina, Beneventano, Terre del Volturno, Campania and Catalanesca del Monte Somma.
Highlights of the charcuterie branch include Napoli salami, Pietraroja ham and polmone sausage, also known as polmonata, made from the meat of a very old, native breed of pig: the Caserta black pig.
There is also a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, including such delicacies as Sorrento lemons, San Marzano tomatoes, Paestum artichokes, Gaeta olives and Cilento white figs, which are used to produce high-quality extra virgin olive oil, liqueurs and preserves.
Another area in which Campania is a world leader is pasta, often produced in hundreds of artisanal pasta factories that still use bronze wire-drawing and slow, low-temperature drying.
Campania's food and wine also stands out in the field of confectionery, being not only one of the best-loved traditions in the world, but also one of the most varied, since each of the five provinces of Campania offers a wide choice of sweets, the main protagonists on the stage of the so-called "guantiera", which traditionally rounds off Sunday lunch in Campania.
The list of the treasures of Campania's pastry-making would be very long indeed: from sfogliatelle, forever divided between ricce and frolle, to zeppole di San Giuseppe, shared between the fried and baked variants; from the rich pastiere to torte capresi, from babà dipped in rum to the fresh lemon delights. And that's only just mentioning the province of Naples. Beyond Campania's capital city, the gourmet explorer will find a world to discover and savour.
But tasting a "pastarella" cannot be considered complete if it is not accompanied by a good cup of coffee, a drink that in Italy, but especially in Campania, is a real cult, an excuse to meet and talk over the classic espresso cup.
Arriving from the East, coffee made its way to Europe and Naples during the eighteenth century, becoming a staple in the early nineteenth century, so vital and important that its offer to the less fortunate, who could not normally afford its restorative value, gave rise to another tradition, that of the so-called "caffè sospeso" ("suspended coffee").
A charitable and philanthropic habit that consists in paying for a coffee and not drinking it, so that it can be offered to the next customer in need who asks for it when entering a bar.
Lastly, we must mention the dish that is the symbol of Campanian and, by extension, Italian cuisine, a food that combines many of the treasures and flavours of the Terra di Lavoro in a perfect blend, from flour to preserves, from oil to cheese, from cured meats to vegetables.
Let's talk about pizza, the Neapolitan version of which is officially recognised as a Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG) of the European Union. Similarly, "the art of the Neapolitan pizza maker" or pizzaiolo, an immortal symbol of gastronomic excellence, has been recognised by UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage.