One piece of advice if you ever want to visit Corsica (and trust me, you want to): never go without your own wheels. Local buses are an absolute nightmare. They run infrequently, if they run at all.

When L. and I visited this wonderful island a few weeks ago, we got stuck more than once. The nearest beach from our first camping was an 8k walk. Having lugged all our stuff there, we just didn’t have the energy. Another camping was right next to a paradisal white-sand-crystal-water-type beach, but after lazing there for a day we felt languid. We tried hiking to the nearest town, but turned halfway because we didn’t want to end up as road kill.

What to do? L. stuck her thumb out. Just like that. I had never hitchhiked before and felt a strange resistance to do so. But it was broad daylight and we weren’t at some ghastly highway exit. Two minutes later, a lady stopped and gave us a ride up. She had lived in Cervione her whole life and was proud to show us around. In the town we met more warm folks: a vendor of local products who let us taste the entire store, a harmless drunk who asked us if we didn’t find the Corsican men the most beautiful in the world (not really), the staff at the family restaurant. After a simple but copious meal there, another lady offered to drive us back.

Sometimes, being at a disadvantage works in your favor. Through our autostop adventures we learned a lot about the island, the customs and the food. Corsicans are proud people in general, but especially smug about their food. In the mountainous areas they have lived an isolated and rugged outdoor life for centuries. The cuisine of medieval days still exists: lots of hearty stews and soups to keep warm. Wild boar, salamis and other charcuterie, and dried cheeses to pull through winter. And of course, chestnuts and hazelnuts in abundance. These nuts were and are used in fritters, souffles, beer and well, in mostly everything you can think of. I bought this little jar of salinu, a mixture of hazelnuts (90%) and salt (10%), which is like sprinkling fairydust over veggies, cheese and omelets.

Brocciu is also ubiquitous. It’s a whey cheese, like ricotta but coarser, and tastier. The Corsicans use it in dishes both sweet and savory. Fiadone is a sweet dessert, often doused with liquor. I created an Italian version with ricotta and used a bit of limoncello to sweeten it up.

Italian-style Fiadone

Serves 4

  • 4 eggs
  • 125 gr sugar (about ½ cup)
  • 500 gr brocciu (or ricotta) (about 2.5 cup)
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons limoncello (lemon liquor)

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Beat the eggs with the sugar to a fluffy, pale yellow mass. Beat the ricotta in, together with the lemon zest, lemon juice and limoncello. Pour the mixture into four buttered ramekins or 1 large buttered baking dish. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or when a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Placer under a broiler for the last 2 minutes (keep a close eye on it!) to brown the top layer a bit.

Irene

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