The French island of Corsica has a long history in food. Even in ancient times, it was an important trading post for Mediterranean produce and, in 1584, the Genovese governor decreed that all landowners should plant an olive, fig, mulberry ,and chestnut tree each year. Today, food continues to play a key role in the island’s economy through tourism and substantial exports of sausage, cheese, honey and wine. It’s worth pointing out that if you’d like to visit Corsica for its food, it’s a good idea to rent a car. The public transport system is very limited, with few options for getting from the small airports to your accommodation.
Typical Corsican food is hallmarked with French and Italian influences. Charcuterie made from pig and boar, such as lonzu, coppa and figatellu, is very popular. Canistrelli are Corsican pastries that come in a range of savoury flavours. For an accompanying beverage, there are several local beers worth trying. Columba and Pietra have a very distinct taste. The island even has its own soft drink – a form of cola. Most dishes are accompanied by pasta or polenta with regional specialities, such as wild boar casserole (civet de sanglier), veal with olives, and Corsican lamb slow-roasted with potatoes, all appearing on the island’s menus. Seafood is readily available along the coast but can be expensive. Trout from the inland rivers and lakes is a good alternative. Chestnuts are used in many of the desserts, such as beignets, which are doughnuts, sometimes filled with cheese. Fiadone is chestnut cheesecake, while chestnut tart is another favourite with locals and tourists alike.
Where to eat
When it comes to sampling the local fare, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Lunch is when many locals will have their main meal, sitting down to several courses accompanied by a few glasses of a regional wine. U Santa Maria
in Porto-Vecchio is a good place to start your gastronomic food tour. And not just for the fantastic view from the covered terrace! Julien Marseault is one of the most renowned chefs on the island, serving beautifully presented seafood, as well as traditional dishes. This is not a place for those on a budget, however.
In Ajaccio, you’ll find Restaurant 20123
which styles itself as “the village within the town.” – This is certainly one of the more traditionally Corsican restaurants, set in a farmhouse with live folk music. The former capital of Corsica, Corte, in the centre of the island, also has much in the culinary area to recommend it. It is worth a visit for an informal evening meal at A Scudella in the town’s busy live square. This little eatery offers high quality pizza and pasta at excellent prices.
Also in Corte is Auberge de la Restonica
for more traditional fare and excellent local wine. By the harbour in Bonifacio, you’ll come across the intriguingly named Kissing Pigs Restaurant. Great local food and wines, a romantic atmosphere and live music on most nights make this restaurant a big hit, so it’s advisable to book in advance. At the northernmost tip of Corsica, U Formu
in Calvi is set back from the busy harbour and offers creative Corsican food. The set menu here offers excellent value. With Corsica, the best way to experience its cuisine is to travel round. But, wherever you go, you’ll be spoilt for choice.