Making a gastronomic journey in the land of the red gold, the hot pepper, a halt at 'I Magnifici del Mezzogiorno' is obligatory. Its co-owner, Giuseppe Sarubbi, tells a story which begins in a sweet land, the Calabria region, surrounded by sea and its scents, warmed by a generous sun. Just here this company is located and under the same sun the good products it offers are grown and processed: preserves in oil, spices, ingredients for preparing tasty courses, marmalades, and jams. All these products are rigorously genuine, prepared with excellent raw materials and handcrafted according to ancient recipes, which belong to the tradition of Calabria, and with the spicy hot pepper cream which boasts the organic certification. Sarubbi says: «In order to produce our specialties, we make use of the little more liveliness which is given by the Calabrian hot pepper: it is colourful, cheerful, burning. We also put hot pepper in our corporate philosophy».
In Calabria, where they found their ideal habitat and are considered the best ones, hot peppers arrived at the beginning of the Sixteenth century, from Spain, where they had been brought by Christopher Columbus, who came back from his first trip to America. They are identified not so much with their botanical term as with the popular lexicon, depending on the use and the form of their berry: round, balloon or cornet; they can be more or less spicy.
A true journey in the cuisine of Calabria
The cuisine of Calabria, which ‘I Magnifici del Mezzogiorno’ has made its own, offers typical courses which give strong emotions, thanks to simple and poor ingredients, but enriched and flavoured with the definite and genuine flavours of an ancient peasant and sea tradition. This land offers scented citrus fruits, olives, vegetables, meats, fishes, and excellent wines.
Therefore, our journey into the world of ‘I Magnifici del Mezzogiorno’ can begin from a ‘Bruschetta’ sprinkled with seasonings, aromas, vegetables from Calabria, with the addition of either top-quality hot pepper or creams with hot pepper (prepared with spicy hot peppers from Calabria, extra virgin olive oil, salt), craft preparations produced according to the most ancient recipes of the tradition of Calabria; appetizers prepared with specialties in oil: the ‘Lampascioni’, the red onion of Tropea, crushed olives; such pasta as ‘Spaghetti intriganti’, ‘Tagliatelle maliziose’, ‘Pennette tentazioni’, ‘Cuori passionali’, created with the addition of hot pepper, processed with bronze dies and dried slowly, at low temperature; or pasta seasoned with ready sauces with such ingredients as marrows, leek, porcini mushrooms, red onion, black olives, broccoli, 'nduja; and then, side dishes prepared with the ‘Specialità della tradizione sott’olio’, that is sun-dried tomatoes, rolls with aubergine in fillets, or ‘Gli sfiziosi sott’olio’: mushrooms, wild chicory, ‘contorno del frate’, strictly wild.
And finally, the jams: the ‘Sfiziose’ line, prepared with liquorice, elderberry, green tomatoes; hot pepper, a completely artisan rarity characterized by unusual flavour, to taste with creamy and delicate cheeses, or for preparing cakes and tarts, whose sweetness of the first sensations combines with a spicy aftertaste; onions, for accompanying roast meats and cheeses.
And, as a self-respecting meal must end with sweet and liqueur: the ‘Chocolate with hot pepper’, pure dark chocolate with thrill; the ‘Amore Piccante’, spicy in the embrace of chocolate and liqueur, according to an ancient Aztec recipe, and the ‘Grappa Ardente’, the whetting liqueur characterized by a burning flavour, by now appreciated not only by Italian but also European, Japanese, and American consumers.