In general, Ligurian cuisine, and in particular that of the Ponente, has a very recognisable character: no one food has the upper hand over another. Every dish can surprise and be appreciated by every taste; every valley parallel to the coast seems to have its own specific culinary dimension and it could not be easier finding a gastronomic itinerary. But how is it possible to choose between so much enogastronomic variety?
Lets start at Sanremo where the sea gives way abruptly to the countryside. Firstly we will look at those seafood specialties. There is the brandacujun, a patriotic dish for Sanremo: it is a delicate combination of dried cod, potatoes and sauces. It has its origin in the “brandade” (crumbling) of dried cod from Provence. By the end of the 18th century tonnes of the fish were being imported into the area via the French ports. There is no end to the influence of French cuisine: the vegetable ratatuia accompanied the fish dishes. Another typical seafood dish is the ciuppin: a fish soup made with all the elements of a typical local catch.
The rabbit ‘alla sanremasca’ reminds us of the hinterland, while an onion soup suggests a link to the rich flavours of the minestrones found in French cuisine. For those in a hurry there are also the quick snacks still made as they always have been: a portion of ‘farinata’ (made with chick pea flour) or the tasty ‘sardenaira’ … but don’t call it pizza! It may seem similar but it has a history all of its own. It is a soft raised focaccia with crusty edges covered in a tomato and other sauces: once sardines topped it off but now anchovies are used. In the years before tomatoes had arrived from America an anchovy paste was common, the so called machettu. For wine lovers the local white to recommend is the Vermentino, but the richer dishes should perhaps be accompanied with a ‘Rossese di Dolceacqua’.