Gastronomy Carrara,
dinner is ready

The culinary tradition of Massa and Carrara derives from the age-old popular customs and it is connected to the products of the land and to the agricultural activity of these territories.
Besides using the produce of the land and of stock-raising, the inhabitants of the Apuan territory learnt to feed on see-food: molluscs, mussels, limpets, sea-urchins, anchovies and little fried fishes.
Owing to the closeness of the two towns, their cuisine is very similar, it changes only in some details concerning preparation and flavouring.
Carrara is famous for the
,bacon fat of Colonnata, white and delicious, with a unique taste coming from the poorest part of the pig, which is situated under the skin and is called pigskin. Its origin are very ancient. Colonnata was a small village, where quarrymen and shepherds lived. They also bred swine, precious for their meat and for the sausages obtained from them. We don't know how it happened that the inhabitants of Colonnata corned and closed the bacon fat in marble basins, perhaps to preserve it for a longer period. Lacking the olive oil the bacon fat was used even to brown onions or to flavour vegetable soups. It was also used by the quarrymen to overcome the intense cold of the winter stuffing themselves with calories and energies: they melted a piece of bacon-fat on the fire and drank it before going to work. Many persons wanted to imitate and produce the bacon fat, but no one has reached that of Colonnata. It is excellent with small tomatoes salt and olive oil or simply with bred.
Among the specialities we can find "ravioli" or "tordelli", which are filled with meat, but the main course is the "taglierini" with beans, for which home-made pasta is necessary.
A common dish is "polenta", seasoned with oil or with mushrooms, meat or fish, such as "polenta with stockfish". To prepare it, one needs stockfish, onion, tomato-sauce, parsley, rosemary, oil and a little white wine (to prepare polenta: maize flour, water, salt).
First of all soften and wash the stockfish, brown the minced onion, rosemary and parsley and put the stockfish in the same casserole. Then heat and sprinkle with white wine. When the stockfish is well browned, add the tomato-sauce and salt and let it cook for one hour. To prepare the polenta, boil the water, add the salt and the meal slowly stirring continuously. When cooked put it in a dish and let it rest. Then cut it into slices (once the polenta was cut with a double cotton thread) and serve it with the stockfish.
Once the tasty and savoury pickled cod was a snack and it was served even in the wineshops, because it matched well with a glass wine. To prepare it one needs softened cod, oil, garlic, vinegar, tomato-sauce, rosemary, chilly, water and meal. Cut the cod into square pieces and flour it before frying in olive oil. When it is browned, strain it in a blotting paper. Prepare a dressing made of garlic, rosemary and chilly, brown it in abundant oil and add the tomato-sauce. Then add a glass vinegar, a little water and let it thicken. Put the fried cod in a salad-bowl, pour the dressing on it and let it rest for some hours.
The "erbi" (herbs) have always been picked in the fields and along the hillocks: they are boiled and served with green beans. Wash the herbs, which grow spontaneously in the fields, and boil them in salt water. Boil separately the green beans. When they are cooked, strain them, put them in a salad-bowl and dress with olive oil.
It is a custom in Carrara, such as in the whole Tuscany, to prepare the "Castagnaccio" ( chestnut cake) with the chestnut flour. Mix the flour, water, milk, a pinch of salt, sugar, pine kernels and softened raisins. Pour the mixture in a baking-pan, dress with oil, add the rosemary and bake it.
With the sweet flour, it is also possible to prepare chestnut pancakes. After sifting the flour through a sieve, mix it with water and a pinch of salt, fry the pancakes in hot oil and strain it in a blotting paper. Generally they are served with "ricotta" cheese.
The main cake is the rice cake, which was once prepared during the party for the patron of the town: S. Ceccardo. Fresh milk, 10 or 12 eggs, sugar, rice, lemon-curd, and (if you like it) liqueurs as anise or alkermes are necessary to prepare this cake. Boil the rice and let it became cold, then beat the eggs with sugar in a large pot with a fork, Add the grated lemon-curd, the liqueur, the rice, the boiled cold milk and stir them. Spread a baking-pan with butter, put the mixture inside and bake it for 1 hour.
When cooked the cake should have a brown-golden colour. The rice cake is very good and is contended with Massa for its origin.
All this tasty dishes, which are made with simple ingredients, can be enjoyed in the restaurants of the town, whereas fish is very appreciated along the coast.

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