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Let’s forget Rome and Florence for the moment and fast forward to a small hamlet on the Liguria coast. Nestled between Genova to the north and Camogli to the south lies a brightly painted village named Recco.
It is famous for its water polo team, steep cliffs above the sea, and foremost for its focaccia with cheese.
There is aculinaryline that dissects themidriffoftheEuropecontinent. This line proceeds in gradients of latitudesthat mayblur as you move from north to south.
The people of the northraiseherds of cows and goats. Their milk issometimeswhipped into butteror agedinto cheese.Almosteverythingedible isbathed ineithercreamor butter.
Here the pigsfeaston chestnutsandinturnmakegood sausage.The pickles are fermented,and thekrautsoured to nourishsturdy soulsthroughlongwinter months.
Below thisimaginaryline,treespervade. Hot ancient orchards dot the hillsides drippingwithgreat bundles of green-black olives.They’repressedinto a nutty oilforthe baseofsaucesand ragouts or a simpledip for crusty bread.
Tomatoes and vegetables of every size and elongation are bathed in this southernsun.
Every scaled andnauticalbeastisnettedandfishedfrom the sea.
Italy, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Greece,andCyprusallsurround the Mediterranean Sea,thesearethepeople who inspire thesouthernMediterranean diet.
You may ask why I should choose to reflect on the lowly onion. So pale and strong in its commonplace role in the kitchen. It marches forth into stews and soups alongside routine bedfellows of celery, carrot and spuds. We barely give onions a second thought as we shop and chop and cook. Yet, they were once of prominent importance and played a role in love and war and cuisines of the ages. Not always so mundane were these tender, translucent orbs of pungency.