Here is an introduction to Corsican food, drink and natural products.

Corsican Tastes, Scents & Eco Products.

Introduction to Corsican Food & Drink.

Corsican Wines & Spirits.

Corsican Meat & Charcuterie.

Corsican Cheeses.

Corsican Fruit & Vegetables.

Corsican Honey.

Corsican Fish.

Corsican Essential Oils & Aromatherapy.

Corsican Diet, Phytotherapy & Natural Remedies.

Corsican Organic Foods.

Corsican Olive Oil.

Corsican Groceries.

Corsican Food & Drink Websites.

This is a very full page of information. The Corsican way of life is implicated as much as food, drink and the produce of the land. Even it only scratches the surface. A Google search reveals the amazing reach of Corsican cuisine.

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Corsican gastronomy is rich and varied, not that you might think so, if you looked through a French pair of spectacles. Many of the food products, as elsewhere, were seasonal and added to the richness and variety of the diet. Many people stick to the habit of eating things in season, even though modern production methods can enable year-round production of almost anything.

Food production has stayed small scale, or relatively so, and thus the products have their own special tastes and textures resulting from the environment in which they have been produced. About 1500 producers sell their products direct. The average size of productive units is only 44 hectares. The same is true for agribusinesses, of which there are 621 in Corsica, of which 242 have no employees, 332 have between 1-9, 44 between 10-49 and a mere 3 have more than 50 employees.

The traditional Corsican kitchen - photo by Marie-Antoinette Guerrini.

The French have a name for locally produced foods; they describe them as being du terroir. There is no real English translation for the concept that refers not just to the land from which the food comes, but also to the taste it imparts. Because 'farming' Corsican style is based on peasant tradition and not (much) on industrial methods, the food produced 'on the land' is really of it. Be sure when you shop in Corsica to try and avoid anything that looks factory produced if you can or better still avoid the supermarket and buy direct. Incidentally there is a wonderful cookbook of which there was an English translation called Cuisine Du Terroir: Lost Domain of French Cooking; it's excellent and though out of print, a secondhand paperback copy is available.

More and more emphasis is being placed on organic production, but much production is organic by its very nature in the small island and give the scale of food production. In the section below on Organic Foods you will find more information. The Corsican organic producers' association is the Civam Bio Corse. Apart from anything else, they have a bio-composting operation at San Giuliano on the east coast.

 Rolli Lucarotti's Recipes from Corsica is a excellent book since it will enable you to try dishes you have enjoyed in Corsica. Rolli lives in Ajaccio and has been here off and on for thirty five years. She gives you not only the recipes, but guidance on how you can replace specifically Corsican ingredients that you can't find back home. You get a bonus of her reflections on Corsica and its ways. This book will stretch your holiday for the rest of the year!

If you'd like to take a look at some other Corsican recipes (in French), then go to any of the four sites shown below under the Corsican Food & Drink Websites. The best recipe books are Les Carnets de Cucina Corsa - an association devoted to Corsican cuisine. They are published by the Centre Régional de Document Pédagogique de Corse and the sales counter telephone number is 04 95 51 11 96. One is for autumn/winter - Recettes pour l'autonne et l'hiver and the other for spring/summer - Recettes pour le printemps et l'été; you'll find them in Corsican bookshops, newsagents or at country fairs all through the year. These two publications, spiral bound and 'wipe clean' are by the best of the Corsican cookboks. Vincent Tabarani, the president of Cucina Corsa teaches cookery at the professional high school in Bastia and does many demonstrations at the fairs. There's another Corsican cookery book, called Cuisine Corse by Jean-Christian de Peretti, Paule Erbalunga & Simon Grimaldi (Edisud), or there's Toute la cuisine corse by François Poli or yet again, La Cuisine Corse - de mère en fille. If you want to browse through a list of 24 titles, then go to this link at alapage.com.

Corsican mushrooms are many in variety and prolific in quantity - not least on account of the limited amount of intensive farming and use of agricultural chemicals. There's an excellent guide available: Les Champignons en Corse; funghi in Corsica, written by Marie Piacentini and Jean Graziani. It was published in 2001 by one of Corsica's leading publishers, Alain Piazzola.

In the south there are two Routes des Sens Authentiques - circuits on which you can visit many authentic Corsican food producers on the Costa Serena and in the Valley of the Taravu. Now there is a new one in the Balagne in the NW. For more info go to www.corsica-terroirs.com, the site of Crepac, the food promotion agency. There's another slightly different circuit organised by the Association of the Three Valleys (Cruzzini, Gravona & Prunelli - you can email for details and ask for their special map - comite.gravona @ wanadoo.fr.

While you are in Corsica, one of the best ways to sample local food products is to visit one of the many Country Fairs. They take place all over Corsica, though the seasons, often related to the area's specific production. I have made a list and though it's incomplete, fifty or so are listed - by month and with contact details where I have them. You can download a copy for free by clicking here.

If you find yourself in Paris, click here for a list of some of the many Corsican restaurants.

For either of these two lists, you will need the Acrobat Reader program  , which you can download also for free, if you don't have it.

Click here for Mediterranean recipe books in general. On the other hand click here if you want healthy Mediterranean eating.   And if you can't wait for your holiday to try some Corsican food, wine and other products, you can by them from Corsican-products.com  They'll ship anywhere in the world.

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This page: Introduction | Wines & Spirits | Meat & Charcuterie | Cheeses | Fruit & Vegetables | Honey | Fish | Essential Oils | Diet & Natural Remedies | Organic Foods | Olive OilGroceries | Food & Drink Websites

Wines

It is true that sobriety has been the traditional hallmark of Corsican eating and drinking.  There is a saying, 'omu di vinu ùn vale quatrinu' (a man who drinks is worth nothing), but there's another that says 'à chì beie sempre finisce cù e ranochje in corpu' (he who drinks only water ends up with frogs in his belly).

The wines are many and improving rapidly, after a disastrous period following the repatriation of the pieds noirs from Algeria in the sixties, when volume production was sought at all costs. This has now disappeared and even the big co-operative cellars produce excellent quality wines. In 2000 there were 7 000 hectares of vines in Corsica vs 32 000 in 1976.

The island's average sunshine hours is 2 750 a year; the combined influence of the sea and the mountains curb the intensity of the sun, greatly to the benefit of the grapes. Heavy rainfalls occur mostly in the spring and give the vineyards a special boost in growth (it rains six times less in Corsica than in the Bordeaux region).

There are 350 vignerons in Corsica and more than a third are dedicated to the top end of the market. In 2001, 56% of wine produced was of the quality vins du pays and 28% was AOC. This means that only 16% was vins de table and that proportion continues to drop each year. Most of the vins du pays are produced by the big vineyards of the east coast. General info can be had from the trade association CIVC - civ @ vinsdecorse.com. In the Balagne, Nebbiu (Patrimonio) and Cap Corse, virtually 100% of wine is made on the domaine growing the grapes, but in the Ajaccio, Sartène, Figari/Porto Vecchio and Central Corsican regions only 50-75% is and on the east coast (the volume producers) a mere 5-10% is vinified outside the big co-ops.

One example of what's happening is with the wines of Sartène that won three medals at the latest Grand Concours de Paris. Numbers of producers in the area are down from 200 thirty years ago to 10 today. Among whom is Fiumicicoli, as an example, that has converted to producing only local cépages over the last 10 years, they have new cellars and equipment; they are also re-introducing muscateddu - a local vine that had almost disappeared - to make Muscat.

There is a general Corsican AOC - vins du pays (16 producers and co-ops) as well as micro-regional AOC's, most of which are small producers:

There is significant production of a delicate desert or aperitif wine, Muscat and the Muscat of Cap Corse is AOC (4 producers). Domaine Orsini at Calenzana in the Balagne has started producing a sparkling muscat - try it, though it's a bit of a rarity (only 6 000 bottles a year). The light rosés (vins gris) are excellent, especially in summer. Reds are more traditional, though there are more and more excellent whites especially from Partimonio and Ajaccio.

piglià una scima - to get pissed as a rat

There are several Corsican cépages. The Sciaccarellu (uniquely Corsican) is especially prevalent in the areas with granitic soil. It produces light coloured reds with a peppery palate and aromas of red fruits, spices, coffee and flowers of the maquis. The Niellucciu is a variety that gives the fine wines of Patrimonio their special renown. It is well adapted to limestone soils. It makes wines of deep red with a gamey bouquet and liquorice, scents of red fruits and violets with a woody note. It matures well. The Vermentinu produces dry white wines of very high quality. It is big and strong on the palate and often have a high alcohol content. It is light with yellowy-green reflections with a nose of flowers, apples and almonds. These indigenous varieties are sometimes combined with continental ones such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Grenache and Cinsault.

The main Corsican wine festival is at Luri in Cap Corse in July. As befits the place where the country's wine fair takes place, a wine museum has been established by the association A Cunfraternita (04 95 35 06 44) in Luri.

A helpful guide is published each year by MV Création of Bastia - Le Guide du Vin Corse (telephone 04 95 32 54 21). There is also Le Petit Sommelier - Guide de Vins Corse and Cocktails de Vins et Liquers de Corse. There is a site devoted to Corsican wine (www.vinsdecorse.com) and if you want a book that covers slightly wider ground, then try Caves Méditerranénnes - vallée du Rhône, Provence, Corse by Christian Molara.

As do several other micro-regions, AOC Calvi's 10 winemakers have established a route des vins to encourage you to visit the vineyards (more details from the local producers' association, based at the Domaine Renucci at Feliceto - 04 95 61 71 08). AOC Calvi wines are principally bas on vermentinu, nielluciu and sciaccarellu cépages making fruity reds, delicate and light fruity rosés and floral whites.

Domaine Orsini is one Calvi vineyard you should visit, since Tony Orsini produces not only wine, but eau de vie, aperitifs, jams, nougat and fruit sweets. His web site has no buying online, because his production is already fully sold and he prefers quality to quantity. When you go, treat yourself to a bottle of Fratellenzana, a sparkling blanc de blanc brut that with your eyes shut, you'd class as an excellent Champagne!

When you are in Corsica, there are of course many places to buy wine. However, you could visit a wine shop if you find yourself near Bastia - it's in Furiani (membres.lycos.fr/lempreinteduvin).

a lamaghja un po dà uva - nettles give no grapes

You might like some recommendations for your visit. Corsica is not normally renowned for its whites, but an excellent one is made by Clos Nicrosi by Jean-Noël Luigi at Rogliano in the north of Cap Corse - Clos Nicrosi was founded in 1850, but since the vineyard is only 12 hectares, production is not vast and it can sometimes be difficult to come by (and seldom in supermarkets so try direct - tel 04 95 35 41 17).

An excellent red is Clos de Bernardi (Patrimonio) produced by Jean-Laurent Bernardi (a native of the Castagniccia) on a small vineyard near the sea (buy direct also). Challenging hard is the Cuvée Faustina red from the Domaine Abbatucci (Jean-Charles Abbatucci farms biodynamically). The Prestige of Domaine Orsini gets high marks also.

A top quality rosé is Clos Landry - especially the gris (Calvi), where Fabien Paolini also produces a very good red (a recent Paris prizewinner), another is from his almost neighbours, the Acquavivas of Domaine d'Alizipratu - another AOC Calvi at Zillia. Another gris I like is Domaine Orsini.

White wines are not a Corsican speciality, but the Abbatucci white is fruity and wonderful - and goes very well with fish and poultry.

Corsica has a growing number of women viticulturists. Here are some: Marina Acquaviva of Domaine de la Figarella (Calvi), Lætitia Tola of Clos Ornasca (Ajaccio); Nadine Boccheciampe of the Domain Boccheciampe (Patrimonio); Lina Venturi-Pieretti of Domain Pieretti (Cap Corse); Marie-Brigitte Poli-Juillard of Clos Teddi (Patrimonio), well, and there's the Countess Abbatucci, Jean-Charles's mum).

Not surprisingly, there a number of fortified wines as well as spirits. Cap Corse is an aperitif with a secret recipe of herbs. Many wine makers produce wines macerated in fruits and so there is vin de clementine, vin d'orange, vin de cerise and so on.

Beers

Pietra is now, on the Corsican scale, a major brewery and it exports all over the world; it brews three beers, which you can certainly find all over the island - Pietra, an amber beer flavoured with chestnut; Serena, a light ale also flavoured with chestnut & Colomba, a white cloudy beer flavoured with herbs of the maquis. Dominique Sialelli and his wife Armelle who established the Corsican brewery eight years ago, have now become one of the principal independent brewers of France and have captured a big slice of the Corsica draft and bottled beer market (20% of the Corsican beer market).  In July & August you can visit the brewery between 9-12 and 2-5 from Monday to Friday and at other times of the year by appointment (04 95 30 14 70). Last July, the Gastropub section of Restaurant, the UK magazine considered Colomba the best white beer ahead of Hoegarden, Wicks Witte (Heineken) and Blanche de Bruxelles.

Pietra now has a 34% stake in Les Brasseurs de Marseille Provence that will ultimately make beers for their local market - for the moment Pietra is brewing them in Furiani. Called Treize - thirteen, after the number of the Var département, it is succeeding very well in current test marketing. It's a light beer with a strong identity, a bit bitter with a light lemony taste (5.8º). this summer a second beer will start production - Provence - that will be white-amber. Pietra also brews a 'special' for the Italian market; called Pietra Strong, it weighs in at 7°, since in the north, near Turin and the Valley of Aosta, that's the way they like it.

You can now buy Pietra and Colomba online in the UK from www.beerhere.co.uk

When you visit, don't drink Coke, drink Corsica Cola! Pietra also makes this fizzy drink.

Torra is another new brand, now brewing in the valley of the Gravona; they make beers flavoured with arbutus and myrtle.

A Tribbiera makes 5 beers - Dea, a light ale; Prima, an unfiltered ditto; Apa, one flavoured with honey; Ambia, amber as the name implies and Mora, a spicy dark beer.

Aperitifs

The two most well known Corsican apreitifs are Cap Corse, which one might describe as a red vermouth, flavoured with quinine and it has a slightly bittersweet taste ('invented' by Louis-Napoléon Mattei in 1872). There's muscat, which of course is sweet (some are dry-ish) and has a natural alcohol of 15-16°. Most come from the micro-region of Cap Corse, though it is produced elsewhere, including on the continent. The same is true for pastis, which people drink a lot in Corsica, as all over the South East of France.

Many individuals as well as professionals make fruit wines, not as conceived in Britain - in other words they are not produced from fruit, but fruit is macerated in a wine base. They are excellent and the home-brews are generally better thatn the commercial varieties - make a point of asking who made the vin de peche, clementine or whatever. A new product has appeared on the market - a lemon aperitif called Corsica Lemon (from the Cap Corse Mattei company) - try it, it's good! if not, try Limoncellu di Corsica (24°), produced by Elia of Aleria.

What you will also find is fruit wines - wine in which fruit has been macerated and sometimes eau de vie as well. Vin de pêche, vin d'orange, vin de clémentine and the like - it's made with what comes to hand.  You can buy it in the shops, but all the best ones are home-made. They are excellent.

There also liquers, but don't make the mistake of thinking that they are spirits, they are not! They too are aperitifs and genrally sweet. Sometimes in a restaurant, you may ask for an eau de vie de myrte, thinking that you are going to get a myrtle flavoured eau de vie, but often you will be served with a liqueur - do not be phased, explain the problem since the waiter himself may not have the necessary knowledge either. One interesting product that has been developed by one of the island's producers, Mannarini, is Liquore di Mele and since it's made with honey, you may find it's a bit like mead.

Spirits

Acquavita - eau de vie is also produced by wine makers and distillers from either wine or marc. It is frequently flavoured. If you can one made by macerating a sprig of myrtle berries in it - try it. Such a bottle can be kept on the go for ten years or more, by just adding additional unflavoured eau de vie, before the bottle is empty. Mavela, a distiller in Aleria on the East coast won a gold medal in 2001 at the Paris Agricultural Show for their plum brandy, following their gold in 2000 for their grape acquavita. They make several spirits from different Corsican fruits.

Now there's a very interesting new development: Corsican whisky! Pietra (see above), have joined forces with Stéphane and Jean-Claude Venturini of the Mavella distillery to create P&M (Pietra & Mavella) to make the product. Pietra makes the malt, using chestnut flour, which is then transported south to Mavella to be distilled. The maturing is done in Patrimonio muscat barrels. They have been aided by a Scots whisky blender and his arcane arts.

Dominique is not alone, however, since Altore is another Corsican whisky that's already on the market. From a wine producing background, Pierre-François Maestracci has been distilling the idea since he was a student at Corte University and made a trip to Scotland, where his whisky is produced from three single malts before being aged in Patrimonio Muscat barrels. Eventually he wants to distill here and in collaboration with the Tibera brewers and Mattei Cap Corse with whom Pierre-François is associated, experimentation has started.

Fabien-Nicolas Barone of Bivende Capcorsine in Bastia has produced a new digestif (what we'd call a liqueur) Limoncinu Corsu. It's 38°.  Give it a try!

Though not strictly wine, it is interesting that the national summer drink of Pastis has a new manufacturer in Corsica. Casanis is the oldest brand locally, but the new one is Mannarini from Corse Sud Distillerie.

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The local fresh meat is produced free-range, not surprisingly on account of the mountainous terrain. Milk production is confined to sheep and goats. Cows are veal producers. There is intensively farmed poultry, but progressively this is reverting to free-range also. The charcuterie is mainly produced artisanally, rather than industrially, even with the growing number of EU regulations. Corsica is not an industrial country by tradition or by nature. Certain meats are special to certain seasons, such as kid, which is a traditional Christmas dish or lamb at Easter. Game is naturally seasonal. The prime example is wild boar.

agnellu Pasquale, caprèttu in Natale - lamb at Easter, kid for Christmas

Corsican charcuterie is excellent. The main products are lonzu, a kind of pork loin; coppa, with a stronger taste perhaps as a consequence of more fat; prizuttu, like a parma ham eaten very thinly sliced. Then there is panzetta, or what the French call 'chest' (poitrine) and English-speakers would call streaky bacon. This is excellent with eggs or baked in a tart with potatoes.

One of the most prized pig-based products is figatelli; these are smoked liver sausages with other offal such as kidneys. Like other charcuterie, they are traditionally made by producers, rather than butchers (a relatively recent arrival as a trade in Corsica). Their season is from November to March, since that was when pigs were traditionally slaughtered. These high energy products kept you going in the winter and were (and still are) cooked over an open fire so that the excess fat runs out and then eaten hot dog style in a piece of bread. They can also be eaten raw when dry.

avè u corpu à viulinu - to be famished (lit. a tummy like a violin, ie empty)

Sadly nearly 85% of Corsican charcuterie is produced on a semi-industrial basis and therefore if you want the genuine article, you will have to visit the producers directly. Your search will be well rewarded. One can even find that some charcuterie labelled 'Corsican' actually is made from imported meat. It is for this reason that the Chestnut Fair at Bocognano in December has refused any stands from charcuterie producers, since there are as yet no controls in place to guarantee the veracity of the local product. There is a plan being established by quality producers to go for an AOC for the Corsican product within the next four years. François Casabianca, a researcher at the Corte lab of INRA - the French national agricultural research institute - encourages farmers to go for a premium product. One of the by-products of an AOC would be to help maintain economic activity in the interior, largely in the mountains.

If you would like to read about real Corsican charcuterie, take a trip to Tavaera with the New York Times correspondent Elaine Sciolino: Sausages with a Pedigree.

Corsican charcuterie is celebrated at the Renno pig-killing fair in February.

Look out for figatellu & prisuttu flavoured crisps in the supermarkets - they are produced by the new company, Isulina, set up by two young Bastiais, Jean-Charles Calendini and Emmanuel Pietrucci.

Corsican beef and veal are of very high quality - cattle are reared on the mountain sides - free-range. The veal is especially good: you should look out for it. If you see it in the butchers or supermarkets, don't be surprised if you think it looks like pale beef; it's not that pen reared stuff that you may be used to. Instead of being fed on milk and all sorts of things best not mentioned, Corsican calves do of course suckle, but they eat all kinds of wild plants on grazing that has never been treated. Meat as it should taste. The quality is at last being recognised; the beef producers of the far south, for example now have a label for their produce - Corsicane - that you can find in the supermarkets Casino and Géant Casino.

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Locally made cheeses are from sheep or goat milk. While there is a long history of producing sheep milk for the production of Rocquefort, most cheese is made by the shepherds themselves. Now, the locals will turn their noses up at such factory produced cheeses, but many of them very appealing. You could try a herb brocciu passu (cultured) which knocks any of those 'Boursin' type cheeses into a cocked hat - this one comes from a small factory in Furiani. The definition of a farmhouse cheese is that it is (a) made by a shepherd, (b) from the milk of only one herd and (c) by traditional methods.

Thus farmhouse cheeses vary enormously, not only dependent upon these variables, but also on what the sheep or goats eat. There is a shepherdess who makes sheep cheese in Calenzana and describes her cheese as having a light taste of hazelnuts, although the animals don't eat nuts, but have a rich and varied diet of various plants and herbs as well as grass. Calenzana cheeses are typically matured, though of course they can be consumed fresh; the annual cheese competition judges the other four main types during the Venaco cheese fair in May, whereas the Calenzana ones are judged in the autumn.

Traditional cheeses are known by the maker's name, rather than type as with French cheeses. This is because there is so much variation by maker. They can vary from very mild to some of such strength that they have to be contained in glass containers to prevent them walking away. Over recent years there has been the introduction of a Corsican tome and though this is not a traditional cheese in Corsica, I prefer it to the Savoyarde version.

The micro-regions especially well known for the cheeses are the Niolu (the high plain in the north of the island), the Venacu (the area around Venaco, south of Corte), Calinzana (in the Balagne) and Bastelicaccia (near Ajaccio). These three types are soft and have washed skins. They come in the fresh or the mature versions; mature will typically mean 11 months plus. The cheeses of the Sartène (including Porto Vecchio) areas are pressed and have dry crusts.

There are specialised Corsican produce shops that sell the 'real thing', but unfortunately many of the supermarkets sell products produced under factory rather than farm dairy conditions. Particularly in the summer you should be able to buy artisinal cheeses direct from their shepherd makers. General info from the trade body Casgiu Casanu (farm cheeses) - c.casanu @ libertysurf.fr.

There is a cheese fair at Venaco in May. For information about Corsican cheese and the trade association, go to www.fromages-corse.org. Since the Corsican goat has been established as a distinct breed, there is an association for it - Capra Corsa to control milk quality and to improve breeding. The Corsican goat is very hardy, a good mountaineer and a high volume milk producer. It weighs in at 35-45 kgs (female) and 45-60 kgs (male), with long red, fawn, grey or black hair, streaked with white or tufted. There are 32 thousand or so goats in Corsica (100 thousand sheep).

There are several ways to obtain Corsican cheese apart from visiting the producers. One of the easiest is to visit the site of Ange Santoni of Disprolat (www.sudmade.com). He is a continental Corsican. He and his English wife split their time between the Var and Palneca in Corsica. They deal with many Corsican producers and ship through the EU and elsewhere in the world.

asgiu face casgiu - time produces cheese

A typical product is Brocciu, a whey or petit-lait (rich in protein, other nutrients and minerals) based cheese produced from the autumn to the middle of summer. Brocciu is used as a basis for many dishes, both sweet and savoury. It is smooth and supple. It is nearest to a bland light cottage cheese, but tastier. It's super in doughnuts (beignets in French, fritelli in Corsican) or eaten as is, but sprinkled with with sugar and, for luxury, eau de vie. Used as a vegetable or pasta stuffing, it is also excellent. Since 1998 there has been an AOC for brocciu, though there was an appellation d'origine from 1983. The trade body organises about ten 'control tastings in different parts of the island every year. There are about 120 producers and farmers who achieve the AOC label between November and May and they produce about 500 tonnes a year. Fresh brocciu is the norm, but you can also get brocciu passu, which is salted and matured for several weeks and can be conserved.

Here's a recipe for Fiadone - one Corsica's most popular deserts - from Rolli Lucarotti's Recipes from Corsica:

4 eggs, 150 g sugar, 500 g brocciu (or ricotta or cream cheese), grated rind of 1 lemon.

Beat the eggs and sugar together until fluffy. Crush the brocciu with a fork and beat into the egg mixture together with the lemon zest. Pour into a well-greased oven dish and bake in a fairly hot oven (220°C/gas 7) for 30 minutes, or until a knife tip inserted in the middle comes out clean.

There are 120 producers and the biggest is a Roquefort subsidiary, which makes about 120 tonnes a year (of a total annual production of some 500 tonnes a year, only a fifth of which leaves Corsica's shores. Sadly, it's a product that is imitated and if you see something labelled brocciu that does not have the AOC label, then it'll be brousse and produced industrially and probably on the continent, quite possibly from powdered milk and frozen lactoserum. If you get offered brocciu in mid-summer, forget it. For the real brocciu, there are all kinds of rules about its manufacture and stipulations about the accredited Corsican breed sheep or goats from which the milk comes. Not that there's anything wrong with brousse, it's just not brocciu!

There is a Brocciu fair at Piana in March.

Cheese quality and consistency of its production is improving all the time, without the loss of 'identity'. One of the means of achieving this is to raise animal quality. A Capra Corsa, the breed association for Corsican goats worked hard for the recognition of the 'Corsican breed' of goat, which was accorded by the authorities in 2003. Wheras the Corsican sheep was interbred with the Sardinian, the Corsican goat has stayed relatively 'pure' over the centuries. For goat AOC Brocciu, not only does the milk have to be 100% Corsican, but must come from pure-bred Corsican goats. In 2003 there were 201 chevriers (goatherds) with 31 000 goats in production (vs 102 000) sheep - not many by comparison with the 1880s when there were more like 225 000..

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This page: Introduction | Wines & Spirits | Meat & Charcuterie | Cheeses | Fruit & Vegetables | Honey | Fish | Essential Oils | Diet & Natural Remedies | Organic Foods | Olive OilGroceries | Food & Drink Websites

una noce sola ùn face rimore - one nut alone make no noise

 Other pages: Home Page | FAQs | Corsican Websites | Corsican Music | Travel to Corsica | Public Life in Corsica | Corsica's Mountains & Coast | Corsican Language | Mystique of Corsica | Corsica's Climate & Weather | Business in Corsica | British & American Connections with CorsicaNewsletters | Contact

This page: Introduction | Wines & Spirits | Meat & Charcuterie | Cheeses | Fruit & Vegetables | Honey | Fish | Essential Oils | Diet & Natural Remedies | Organic Foods | Olive OilGroceries | Food & Drink Websites

 Other pages: Home Page | FAQs | Corsican Websites | Corsican Music | Travel to Corsica | Public Life in Corsica | Corsica's Mountains & Coast | Corsican Language | Mystique of Corsica | Corsica's Climate & Weather | Business in Corsica | British & American Connections with CorsicaNewsletters | Contact

This page: Introduction | Wines & Spirits | Meat & Charcuterie | Cheeses | Fruit & Vegetables | Honey | Fish | Essential Oils | Diet & Natural Remedies | Organic Foods | Olive OilGroceries | Food & Drink Websites

chi vo piglia peschi s'alzi matina - a good catch means rising early

 Other pages: Home Page | FAQs | Corsican Websites | Corsican Music | Travel to Corsica | Public Life in Corsica | Corsica's Mountains & Coast | Corsican Language | Mystique of Corsica | Corsica's Climate & Weather | Business in Corsica | British & American Connections with CorsicaNewsletters | Contact

This page: Introduction | Wines & Spirits | Meat & Charcuterie | Cheeses | Fruit & Vegetables | Honey | Fish | Essential Oils | Diet & Natural Remedies | Organic Foods | Olive OilGroceries | Food & Drink Websites

Corsica has an abundance of plants and trees favoured by producers of essential oils and aromatics on account of its climate and soils,. The oils are produced from flowers, leaves, seeds, bark, zest and wood. Oils produced include cedarwood, citronella, cistus, cypress, eucalyptus, fennel, hyperisum, inula, juniper, larricio pine, laurel, lavender, lentisk, marjoram, mint, myrtle, petit grain (orange, clementine, lime), rosemary, sage, St John's wort, thyme, verbena, wild carrot and many others.

They are produced for medicinal purposes, aromatherapy, food products, hygiene products and perfumery. There are growing number of essential oil distillers. Several both collect wild plants as well as cultivating their own. Most producers are 'bio' - organic. They distill for healing purposes, perfumiers and beauty product manufacturers and more and more they are offering their own brands. It is an activity supported in the region and looks like growing.

Of course it's not only that Corsica is a propitious place for the production of high quality essential oils, it's also a place that has a very strong tradition of natural healing. The oral tradition has handed down many recipes for the use of medicinal plants and there's a growing interest in making them more widely known. A useful pair of books in this context are Arbe, Fiori, Funghi (tasty plants) and Frutti, baghe, oliosi (wild and ultivated fruits) by Hélène and Sarah Pellet. Another is a superb book, available from bookshops in Corsica or the Regional Park, is Arburi, arbe, arbigiule - a collection of plant folklore with many remedies and other uses of Corsican plants.

Certain plants can be harvested throughout the year, but most have a very specific period during which they can be harvested for quality oils. The botanical cycle and the meteorological conditions, as well as the methodology of cutting are all important to the process. Also the best distillation method is with vapour to ensure the therapeutic quality of the oils. Given that good oils are used for their antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effects and thus their effect upon nervous and endocrine balance, they can regulate organic functions to resist illness. Essential oils link the physical, the mental and the spiritual aspects of our lives, thus the processing has to be very carefully controlled and it's important to make the distinction between medicinal and beauty applications of essential oils. Each has their place.

While for the most part harvesting is of wild plants, there are an increasing number of hectares of plantation specifically for the industry. Between 800-1 000 tonnes are distilled into essential oils each year. About 60% of output is exported and 40% is sold within France. There are currently six producers in Corsica and a producers' association has been established. The PPAM (Plantes à Parfum Aromatiques et Médicinales de Corse) has established a harvesting charter with the involvement of the French national botanic conservatory of Mediterranean plants at Porquerolles on the continent. The Corsican branch is managed by Laetitia Hugot of the Office de l'Environnement de Corse. This has been prompted not least on account of the indiscriminate harvesting of large amounts of plant material that is then carted off abroad. The profession has comitted to a system of harvesting of 22 protected plants and the customs will now have something upon which to base a vigilance of plant protection (a decree in 2003 required a certificate for the transport of plant materials).

Not surprisingly you can find many essential oils and beauty products produced in Corsica, the birthplace of the father of modern perfumery - Coty. François Coty (1874-1934) was born in Ajaccio, near the Bonaparte family home (and allegedly he's a descendant). He changed the more traditional spelling Coti to Coty (you can still find plenty of Cotis in the Corsican phone book) after his mother. Apparently, though, his real name was Spoturno. He was recognised as one of the leading perfumiers between the two wold wars and had the nickname 'the Napoleon of Perfume'. He was the first to use Lalique (I recently dug up one of his bottles in my vegetable patch!) and Baccarat for bottling his products. He amassed an enormous fortune, installed many innovations in his chateaux, was a great philanthropist, but died alone and ruined in his chateau at Lovincennes. You can download an article on Coty, if you want to know a bit more.

Coty's grandson, Henri, has an ambition, at 80, to reinvigorate the production of aromatic plants for perfumery in Corsica. He has a project to set up a centre for the study of such plants at the University of Corsica and to establish a certificate for aromatic and medicinal plants studies. It is important to distinguish the difference between the use of essential oils in perfumery and aromatherapy. An association François Coty has been established (tel 04 95 22 52 93).

By a strange twist of business history, Coty looks set to become the biggest fragrance company in the world! In May 2005, Unilever sold their perfumes business (Calvin Klein, Lagerfeld and others) to the (now) American beauty company, Coty. The Coty company is now New York based, but springs from François Coty's firm originally established in Paris in 1904. It is ultimately owned by Joh A Benckiser GmbH of Ludwigshafen, Germany.

A Corsican parfumier has introduced Eau de Gloire - contemporary scent that transcends and transcribes the olfactory universe of Napoleon and the time of his empire…a blend of citrus, bergamot, lavender, licorice and tea will create in the wearer a wake of tobacco, leather and Corsican heather..."  Produced by his Parfum d'Empire by Marc-Antoine Corticchiato, it is being sold in parfumeries in France.

Clearly there is a vogue for aromatherapy and even the big consumer product manufacturers are offering so-called 'aromatherapy' products, but which have in effect little to do with the real thing. Essential oils exert a subtle influence on the mind as well as their natural physical properties and in the hands of a sensitive aromatherapist offer a holistic alternative to the psychotropic drugs in such wide current use. For more guidance here, try The Fragrant Mind: Aromatherapy for Personality, Mind, Mood and Emotion by Valerie Ann Worwood, which concentrates on emotional, psychological and mood changing effects of essential oils. She also wrote The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: Over 600 Natural, Non-Toxic and Fragrant Recipes to Create Health, Beauty and a Safe Home that provides over 600 recipes for making up your own non-toxic and fragrant products. She wrote The Fragrant Heavens: Aromatherapy for the Spirit & Scents & Sexuality: Aromatherapy & Essential Oils for Romance, Love and Sex.

Essential oils also have the quality of being used in a variety of ways, including massage, aromatic baths, hot & cold compresses. There is a word of warning, however. The quality of oils varies considerably - largely dependent upon the work of those who gather and process the oils. Some are proud of their work and conscious of medicinal traditions as well as distilling with great savoir-faire to obtain quality (a couple of examples here are Astratella and the Caux brothers), while others ride the wave of the seductive image of 'Corsican Essential Oils'. - cashing in and not delivering the genuine article.

Corsican Imortelle (Everlasting - Helichrysum SSP Serotino Italicum) is one of the native Corsican plants used by those producing oils. It has unique qualities translating into greater therapeutic efficiency than other hilichrisum in the world. Imortelle oils are available from several of the online essential oils providers. The biochemical composition of many Corsican aromatic oils is unique. France Louvet, an aromatherapist says "Though millions of people today have heard about aromatherapy and essential oils, a tiny fraction really knows what it's all about. Corsican essential oils are 'vintage oils' - the Rolls-Royce of aromatherapy. Here we are far from the lavender industry of Provence, industrial perfumery of Grasse or synthetic recreational fragrancing practiced in the US."

Someone who is well worth you contacting is Stéphane Rogliano. He has a nursery of aromatic maquis plants that will be open to the public in due course. However, he is also a qualified mountain guide and does trips to discover the vegetation of the mountains and the maquis from visual, olfactive, botanic, historic and cultural points of view. He can be contacted at the Serres de Ferruccio, 20137, Porto Vecchio (tel 04 95 70 34 64 or 06 19 89 65 36).

Dr Chrisophe Giradin Andréani of Phytocorsa has produced a new range of body lotions, called Preziosa, based on essential oils. The range includes the following:

Training and workshops on aromatherapy and essential oils are now on the increase; Astratella run one such at least once a year. There is also growing interest in bringing people to visit Corsica for aromatherapy. One organiser is Victoria Edwards of Leydet Aromatics.

Here are some of the people in the field:

Astratella (www.astratella.com) - Noëlla Irolla and Emellie Cortaggiani are partners in this distillery as the GAEC de L'Astratella (it means dwarf juniper) at Lumio in the Balagne. Their main production is for perfumeries and consumer product producers. However they can be found at their distillery most afternoons at Salduccio (04 95 60 62 94), as well at their online boutique, where they sell oils, hydrolats, massage oils and the like. They are one of Cyrnarom's suppliers of oils for perfume (see below).

Jean-Pierre & Paul Caux - They have their distillery at Ocana near Ajaccio. They produce 13 essential oils, floral water (distilled flowers) and three kinds of massage oil. All can be ordered on line. They, like L'Astratella produce medical quality oils. They have no website, but you can write to their fax: 04 95 23 84 08 or email corsicapam @ aol.com

Corsicarome (www.corsicarome.com) - This is the site of the Alessandri brothers, whose father established their Cargese distillery in1970. You can buy online.

Mandriolu (www.madriolu.com) - here is the site of Pierre Antoine Alessandi, who is not directly related to the Alessandris above. He makes massage oils: for slimming, for rheumatism and for relaxation. He encourages visits to his 7 hectare property just north of Ajaccio, where he also makes some very special aperitif wines - lemon, orange and myrtle with delicately added flavours

Les Simples are products for face and body care. These Corsican made products use the oils of calendula, rosemary, carrot, peppered mint, oats, lime tree and lavender. They are available from Isabelle Buiret of Foci, 20144 Ste Lucie de Porto Vecchio (04 95 71 59 90) or LesSimples@aol.com.

Réalia Cosmetics (www.realia-cosmetic.com) beware, some browsers won't work; if you have a problem, click on the 'commander' link and you'll get in!) - This is an initiative by the charming Muriel Crestey, by origin an agriculturalist who set up a workshop amid the olive trees of her family property at San Guiliano, near Cervione - to produce natural cosmetics. She has a diploma in cosmetics from the University of Liège and named her business after the Greek mother goddess, Rhea. She has produced a small range, all produced from her own farm products - 100% Corsican. She is producing skin care (eg a Rosemary-based acne cream) and massage products, as well as planning a sun cream range. Write for a catalogue if you don't want to order on line.

La Montagne Dans La Mer (www.lamontagnedanslamer.com) - a range of bath and body care products based on Corsican essential oils, They are looking for stockists. Their range of chestnut-based products (massage oil, soap, hand and foot cream, bath essence) is distributed in France by Nature et Découvertes. The directors are Jérôme Nasica, Hervé & Jean-Marc Assibat - they manufacture on the continent, not in Corsica. In 2003 they plan a range of Imortelle-based products and will introduce a water atomiser. This last uses water from the St Georges source at Groseto Prugna near Ajaccio in packaging designed by Philippe Starck.

Antoine Valentini runs Kyrn Flor with his son Jean, 3 Kms south of Corte on the RN 193 at a place called U San Gavinu - you will see the Kyrn Flor sign on the left hand side. His wife Jeannie says "we like to be hidden and small". They also have gites and chambres d'hotes (tel 04 95 61 02 88). Antoine used to be a shepherd and he set out 15 or so years ago to show that the natural resources of Corsica could be used in creative ways. He has no desire to be a big producer, but he remains determined to keep very high standards of production; his operation has the Ecocert for organic production and while he sells retail from their premises, he sells most of his output wholesale to quality manufacturers of products based on essential oils.

There are several other producers on the island, such as Demeter (Albrecht von Keyserlingk) at San Nicolao (04 95 38 46 04) on the east coast (they are one of the oldest in the business - Essences Naturelles Corses of Moriani Plage recently trained Zambian and Kenyan producers at Demeter (under the auspices of the Center for the Development of Enterprise).

Guy Checchini of Cyrnarom in Bastia (04 95 31 39 30) not only makes perfume from plants essences and oils distilled in Corsica - such as Muccheddu or Murza, but has set up a museum (29 avenue Emile Sari in Bastia) of distilling and blending as well as of perfume bottles. Guy is the only parfumier in Corsica and he is proud of his work with Corsican artisans. Most of his labels are designed by the Pigna artist, Toni Casalonga. One of his latest scents is Eau de Bonaparte - look out for it. He says that it has a very fresh smell and he has added Neroli (essence of the flowers of bitter orange), of which Old Boney used a litre a day!

Christian & Jeanine Favre at Monte (04 95 36 72 28), who also produce aromatics, infusions and jams, pollen, honey, or Dragon Vert in Ajaccio (04 95 51 21 70). Marc-Antoine Corticchiato has just completed the creation of a concept of 'historical perfumery' - he is now intending to produce a range of perfumes and derivative products using a method of extraction, based on techniques conceived in the Napoleonic era.

Crenacare cosmetics is a new company launched in 2006 by Julie Dawn and Brigitte Artily.  Their products are all based on natural herbs and other Corsican products such as honey and ass's milk.  Their products include: Amarella, made with Immortelle "Everlasting". Good for wrinkles, age spots, skin irritations and sooths sun burn.  Amelia is made with Corsican honey and contains antioxidants. It will leave skin hydrated, soft and sweet smelling.  Parfena is based exclusively on Asses milk. This is a powerful & natural time stopper of the free radicals in the form of rich lactic creams and lotions.  Ribellu is based on chestnut and myrtle and is designed for men. Chestnut revives skin, erases rosaceous and calms burning skin (especially after shaving). Myrtle has the ability to firm skin tissue, tightening and toning.  Everything is available worldwide on Crenacare's site www.crenacare.com .  Julie and Brigitte are looking for international distributors.

Here's some books on aromatheraphy and essential oils. The book recommended by my aromatherapy friend France is Herbs and Aromatherapy (Culpeper Herbal Guides) by Joannah Metcalf (a good book for beginners she says); Aromatherapy for Common Ailments by Shirley Price, who also wrote Shirley Price's Aromatherapy Workbook, understanding essential oils from plant to bottle; The Directory of Essential Oils by Wanda Sellar; The Aromatherapy Garden by Julia Lawless, who also wrote: Essential Oils, a complete guide to the use of oils in aromatherapy and herbalism and The Big Little Book of Essential Oils; The Encyclopedia of Aromatherapy by Chrissie Wildwood, who also wrote Mood Enhancing Plants; Natural Healing by Serge Rafal. Don't overlook Botanica Erotica by Diana de Luca!

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This page: Introduction | Wines & Spirits | Meat & Charcuterie | Cheeses | Fruit & Vegetables | Honey | Fish | Essential Oils | Diet & Natural Remedies | Organic Foods | Olive OilGroceries | Food & Drink Websites

People talk about the Mediterranean Diet (and often the Cretan Diet) and now some talk of the Corsican Diet. There are increasing numbers of Corsican cookbooks and many contain very healthy receipes, but if you are into healthy eating, then here's some books on Mediterranean healthy eating:

The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook: a delicious alternative for lifelong health, by Nancy Harmon Jenkins;

Healthy Mediterranean Cooking by Rena Salaman;

Mediterranean Light: delicious receipes from the world's healthiest cuisine by Martha Rose Schulman;

Olive Oil Cookery : The Mediterranean Diet by Maher Abbas & Marilyn Spiegl;

Healthy Mediterranean: good food full of zest and flavor by Joanna Farrow;

The Mediterranean Herb Cookbook: fresh and savoury flavours from the Mediterranean garden by Georgeanne Brennan.

The Healthy Feast: Cooking Light with Mediterranean Oils by Mark Emmerson;

Light Mediterranean Cookbook by Frederic Lebain;

Light and Healthy Mediterranean Cooking by Judith Wills.

You may also be interested in phytotherapy (the use of plants or plant extracts for medicinal purposes, especially ones that are not part of the normal diet). If so, then here's some useful books: The Essential Guide to Natural Home Remedies by Penelope Ody and Bellamy's Herbal by David Bellamy.

If you are a gardener, you may like to try Biodynamic Gardening: for health and taste by Hilary Wright.

- and ps if you want to Know more about phytotherapy go to the College of Phytotherapy. In Corsica, an interesting place to visit, if you are a scientist, is the Ecology Lab of APEEM (Association pour l'Etude Ecologique du Maquis) at Pirio, between Tuarelli and Manso in the Fangu valley (south of Calvi).

There are many ways of healthy eating in Corsica, not least because there are so many small farmers and producers selling direct and through local retailers. Here are some pointers, in addition to the other sections on this page of Corsica Isula.

Natural Food Supplements

Dr Christophe Giradin Andreani is a lecturer in the faculty of Medicine in Lyon, where he specialises in research epidemiology as well as in botany and particularly in plant remedies. He originally set out to train as a surgeon, but lost the index finger of his right hand and had to change course! Being Corsican, he soon set down to studying traditional the plant remedies of the island - a subject he still pursues.  His research he teams with his business based in Corsica, which grew from it: the production of food supplements for people and animals.

He established his company Phytocorsa through which he sells spirolina (produced in Corsica) and chlorella in various pack sizes (medicinal and vetinary) and which as well as distributing in Corsica, he sells on line. He is passionate about improving our natural defences, given the triple whammy of modern life: processed foods, pollution and nutritional deficencies.

Christophe works through diet and supplements on the basis of two treatment phases that he calls:

  1. offensive: detoxication with prevention of seconary effects; protection of sensitive organs; stimulation of the immune system; significant supply of antioxidising agents and
  2. maintenance: protection against new poisoning; fight against deficiencies & free radicals; specific organ protection; continuing stimulation of the immune system.

In due course he will be marketing new products in the anti-oxident and detox fields, with special formulae for liver & kidneys, brain functions, complexes for the immune system, gastric functions, ageing and others. He has perfected a method (called micro-dynamic bio-electrolysis) for the preparation of these products which increases effectiveness and a total absence of toxicity. The range will be marketed under the Alta Rocca brand-name and are based on Corsican plants.

A useful and fascinating book in this connection is Arburi, arbe, arbigiule (in French & Corsican) - a collection of plant folklore with many remedies and other uses of Corsican plants, available from bookshops in Corsica or the Regional Park. Also from the Regional park you can get a book - Promenade en Corse parmi ses fleurs et ses forêts - by Marcelle Conrad (1897-1990) an indefatibable ethno-botantist from the Alsace, who made some 50 visits here, publishing over 130 articles on flora corsicana. She left her papers to the Conservatoire et Jardin Botannique of the City of Geneva that has a Corsican flora project. Her work much inspires Christophe. There is now an association to promote her ideas and work (Association Marcelle Conrad, 9 chemin des Ecoles, Miomo, 20200 Bastia - that's the home of her two daughters, Bernadette and Marie-Germaine. If you are interested in the work of Marcelle Conrad, then let me know and I'll send you a copy of an address she gave at ADECEC in Cervione (in April '81), Les Corses et les Plantes Sauvages Autrefois et Maintenant, in which she lists hundreds of species and their uses by Corsicans in the 'old days'.

A book of interest to people looking for Mediterranean medicinal plants is Ces Précieuses Plantes de Mediterranée by Dr Yvan Avramov. The book has short monographs on each plant, with details of where they grow, medicinal uses of vaious parts of each plant and scientific data where relevant.

Healthy lifestyle products

Given so many natural vegetable products in Corsica, more and more people are finding new applications and resuscitating old ones. Valérie Gaudemard has set up a microbusiness called Allupiera to make pillows and cushions and even (on special order) mattreses, from Corsican cork granules. She makes various sizes, including a standard pillow. Another model is designed as a belt that can be heated on a radiatoe or in a microwave to ease lumbar pain. As opposed to some other vegetable-based products used for pillows, these are hypo-allergenic, avoid perspirationb and take the form of vertebrae correctly. She is based near Porto Vecchio (Cippono, Muratello, 20137 Porto Vecchio, France tel 04 95 70 44 47) and she has an English leaflet if you are interested.

If you are in Sartène, the 'most Corsican' of towns, then you may like to visit a shop called Miluccia where Sandrine Guais makes soap, using essential oils from Corsicarome at Cargèse.

While complementary health remains a less developed sector in France than in countries in the north of Europe, there is significant progress taking place, not least in Corsica. Ile Rousse is one town where there are a number of processs and treatments on offer: Shiatsu (Valérie Begnis 06 20 39 52 90); Reflexology (Christine Grzesiak 04 95 65 08 94); Zen (Claude Hervé 06 66 68 25 09); Qi Gong (Béatrice Sanguinetti 06 22 38 14 62); Yoga (Association Balanine de Yoga 06 75 35 88 18) are some of those on offer. In Calvi, there a Zen Dojo, where a monk Claude Hervé (06 66 68 25 09) leads session twice a week.

Healthy lifestyle services

Corsica was well known for its mineral and hot springs and spas in the nineteenth century, but most have disappeared. there are, however, several moves afoot to revive them. It's likely that support would be forthcoming from the regional government for an organisation seeking to invest, not only for the intrinsic value, but also because most spa waters are in the interior mountain regions.

If you want a full 'gazeteer' of Corsican thermal sources visit this site that has a very full response to a question on the subject posed by France Louvet. You'll discover that a good few are now inaccessible

Guagnu - the waters are prescribed for rheumatism (a doctor and osteopath are available).- open from May-October - (60kms north east of Ajaccio). The SEM (mixed economy company) that runs it makes no money (the baths are owned by the Département) and is under threat: a liquidator has been named. It has a very nice hotel that needs investment (estimated at €1m) and its official Ministry of Health label was withdrawn in 1998 after it was hit by legionnaires disease, but that is in the past. The hotel was considered to be worth 4m euros by the state valuer, but who knows? Interested parties should contact the lady Maire of Poggiolo (Mme Angèle Pinelli - 04 95 28 31 72) or the director of the Hôtel des Thermes (Jacques Delfini - 04 95 26 80 50; fax 04 95 28 34 02). The idea would be to dissociate the thermal activities from the hotel itself, such that the latter could be acquired by a private buyer.

Baracci - open from June-September - is another operational spa, at Oletta near Propriano, that was reopened in 1993. (tel 04 95 76 30 40) or the Mairie of'Olmeto - 04 95 74 60 73. The sulphurous and sodic waters come up at 52° and are cooled to 42° in the baths. The spring has been known since antiquity; when the source was capped in 1881, effigies of the Emperor Hadrian and the Empress Extrucilla were found. the waters are good for rheumatism, arthritis, sciatica, as well as helping cure the results offractures and burns. They are also used in the treatment of dermatological complaints such as acne, excema and psoriasis. there is a swimming pool, individual baths & showers and a jacuzzi. The old hotel is no longer in operation, but its gardens are still a peaceful place. The municipal tourist office of Oletta is on 04 95 74 65 87. You can stay at Olmeto or Propriano.

Guitera les Bains is 55kms east of Ajaccio, where the Maire, Pierre-Nonce Lanfranchi (tel 04 95 24 45 21) has a project to re-open the spa. The bicarbonated water still flows in the garden of what used to be the spa - the sulphrous liquid comes up at 45°C.

Zigliara - open from June-September - is at Urbalacone, 39kms from Ajaccio. The Station Thermale Bains Taccana Urbalacone can be contacted on 04 95 25 74 23 or 04 95 25 71 49. The water is recommended for respiratory diseases, ear inflammations, sinusitis, bronchitis, and asthma.

Pietrapola les Bains (tel 04 95 56 70 03; fax 04 95 56 75 20), is west of Ghisonaccia, in the Fiumorbo. There is a hotel that re-opened in 2001 and is open all year. You can take the waters that are especially good for rheumatism and brain damage problems, but you can also go for a daily 'cure'. The baths were built on the remains of Roman buildings constructed between the 10th and 8th centuries BC. The waters gush 200 000 litres a day at 57°. the baths are a private enterprise that is not working anywhere near full capacity at present and ideas for further development may be welcome by the owner, France Torre.

Caldane - open all year - is at Sainte Lucie de Tallano, northeast of Sartène (tel 04 95 77 00 34). This sulphurous spa has an open-air pool, with cabins around it for changing. Since the water is warm it can be used in winter and often has gentle steam rising from it. The water is reckoned to be especially good for psoriasis and excema. You will note four spas with 'cald' in their name - meaning not cold as you might think, but hot, since the Corsican word caldu means heat.

Here is the full list of the 31 known mineral springs in Corsica, including three whose waters are now bottled, namely Dirza (Zilia), Orezza and St Georges:

On a completely different note, how about ostritch products? A new family business - Comptoir Insulaire de la Mediterranée - has been set up in a rural area near Ajaccio to produce and promote ostritch production - in Corsican ostritch meat is carni di struzza.

 Other pages: Home Page | FAQs | Corsican Websites | Corsican Music | Travel to Corsica | Public Life in Corsica | Corsica's Mountains & Coast | Corsican Language | Mystique of Corsica | Corsica's Climate & Weather | Business in Corsica | British & American Connections with CorsicaNewsletters | Contact

This page: Introduction | Wines & Spirits | Meat & Charcuterie | Cheeses | Fruit & Vegetables | Honey | Fish | Essential Oils | Diet & Natural Remedies | Organic Foods | Olive OilGroceries | Food & Drink Websites

 Corsican Organic Foods

A growing number of producers are 'bio' - organic (currently just over 100), though they only represent about 2% of Corsican agriculture. At the beginning of the 90s there was only 200 hectares of organic production, but this has now grown to 2 600 with 122 farmers. In 2006-2007 the area of 'bio' citrus will increase by 50%.You can obtain more information from the Corsican organic producers association - CIVAM Bio de Corse - tel 04 95 38 85 36, fax 04 95 38 85 69 or biocorse @ wanadoo.fr. A special 'Terra Bio Corse' label has been established and so far has eight participants*. At San Giuliano they have a natural compost making plant, presently supplying about 800 tonnes to Corsican organic producers and looking to expand.

One well organised fruit grower (Patrick Berghman at San Nicolao on the East coast) - www.patrick-berghman.com - produces clementines, pomolos (a wonderful pink grapefruit-like citrus), limes, lemons and kiwis, also makes 'Grand Cru de Puntimoso' - fresh pomolo juice. He uses bio-dynamic farming methods and hence his production is organic. Biodynamic agriculture is founded on a holistic and spiritual understanding of nature and the human being's role within it - is based on the ideas of Rudolf Steiner.

Since such a high proportion of Corsican production is small scale, there's so little manufacturing industry and very low usage of agrichemicals, much produce is organic ipso facto, and goes unsung as such. Chestnut and chestnut flour producton is all organic, for example. Most farmhouse cheeses fall into this category as well.

Organic restaurants have begun to appear in Corsica (not very quickly it's true); one example is L'Ortu at Vescavato (tel 04 95 36 64 69) in a house built from Corsican pine (Iabelle & Maurice Choubroun, the hosts, are continental French, albeit here for 16 years). They are beekeepers and producers of fresh veg and are fascinated by medicinal and aromatic plants.

Many traditional varieties have fallen into disuse, but there are growers who are reviving them. At Luri in Cap Corse there is the Association Cap Vert which is conserving heritage of local vegetation. They carry out ethnobiological studies and have conservation programmes for local varieties of fruit and veg. The gardens are between the hamlets of Piazza and Renula. They aim to popularise in the first instance 3 indigenous varieties - an onion, a peach and a tomato. Contact: 06 95 35 05 07.

In the 'old days', Corsican diet was alleged to have been limited, but that's not true. There were many staples like chestnut flour, but because the country's vegetation is so rich and varied, there was great variety in edible plants. Many are very rich in vitamins and minerals as well as having wonderful flavours. The fruit of the eglantine (grattarola) is for example, between 60 and 150 times richer in vitamin C than the orange! The bulbs of the lesser celandine (ficaria) are fiddly to pick and prepare, but boiled and then served with a little olive oil and salt are a rare treat. Details can be had in an excellent new illustrated book called Arbe, Fiori, Funghi (tasty plants) by Hélène and Sarah Pellet. The same publishers have just brought out a companion volume, Fruiti, baghe, oliosi (wild and cultivated fruits).

Much of Corsica's artisanal agricultural production can be seen at the many country fairs, several of which, noted below specialise in a particular product. Many of them have associated Corsican cooking demonstrations and tastings, most organised by Cucina Corsa, which teaches and promotes Corsican cuisine. You can download a copy of Corsican Festivals and Fairs by clicking here. It gives locations, month and contact details.

If you are into organics - then La Roulotte is the shop for you: one in Bastia and one in Ajaccio: lieu-dit Canale, RN 193, 20600 Furiani (tel 04 95 34 47 08) and immeuble le Bonifacio, Résidence Golfes, 20000 Ajaccio (tel 04 95 22 69 47). They deliver regularly to many parts of the island. Organic shops are opening with increasing frequency. Another bio-shop is Oshadi in St Florent. It is run by Chiara Ortino from Italy. They also have a tea bar and offer many different natural treatments. well worth a visit if you are near St Florent. There is also Les Saveurs Naturelles (Ajaccio). These shops often sell fresh produced as well as packaged goods and generally sell organic beauty products also.

If you want more on the subject and addresses of producers, then download the pdf - Corsican Organic Products.

*The current members are: Association Cap Vert (Luri), Virginie Brunini (Santa Lucia di Moriani: veg), Jean-Jacques Laurent (Sainte Lucie de Porto Vecchio: fruit & veg), Alain Ceria (Eccica Suarella: veg), Parc Prietto (Valle, Sainte Lucie de Porto Vecchio: fruit & veg), Michel Satta (Loretto, Ajaccio: veg), Marie-Claude Scarbonchi (Cuttoli: fresh fruit & jam), Jacques Abbatucci (Serra di Ferro: beef).

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Olive oil production has a 6 000-year history in Corsica and in the C19 was one's of its principal export agricultural products. In 1875 Corsica produced 22 500 tonnes of the liquid gold. Currently production is running at a 450 tonnes a year, through this is programmed to continue increasing, according to the Corsican professional association, SIDOC. This association has now obtained the precious appellation d'origine. There are currently some 500 producers and the olive plantation has tripled in twelve years (in 2000 there were 1800 hectares in production), but there are still many thousands of abandoned trees (that are not burned by brush fires).

Corsican olive oil is of excellent quality and after its hey day at the turn of the century is now very much in revival. Large scale producers in other countries decimated exports, but the special qualities of local varieties of olive such as the Sabina are coming back into their own. However, Corsica's production pales into insignificance at 150 tonnes/year, by comparison with Spain's 1 million tonnes. The Balagne's olive groves are a mere 20% of what they were at the end of the war, but it still represents the most important oil-producing region of Corsica, with the Nebbio. In the last four years some 15MF has been invested in the industry.

There are two olive fairs - one for new olive oil in St Lucie de Tallano in March and the olive fair at Montegrosso in the Balagne,one of the biggest oil producing regions, in July. See the websites list below for two producers - click here.

Exports are now growing and Corsican olive oil is beginning to be appreciated by gourmets. You can fine an oil from Prunette, for example at the O&Co store in the up-market Century City in Los Angeles.

It is said that Corsican olive, under its AOC, is known for its taste (sweet, lightly peppery, slightly hot with a touch of bitterness), its flavour (maquis, almond, hazelnut, rosemary, honey) and its colour (golden yellow, clear yellow, hints of green). Look for the logo - Huile de Corse/Oliu di Corsica.

The Balagne is one of the main olive growing areas of Corsica and mostly using the Sabina (called Biancaghja in the Nebbiu and Aliva Bianca north of Ajaccio) that ripens in February, but only fruits every other year and Picholine varieties which make wonderful oil and is a table olive common both to Corsica and the Gard region of France. Until the end of the last century the Balagne was said to have been the most important oil producing area of the Mediterranean. The variety special to the extreme south (Porto Vecchio, Bonifacio, Figari...) of Corsica is the Zinzala. The other Corsican varieties are the Capanacce (east coast and elsewhere) and the Ghjermana that ripens in November (Aliva Nera north of Ajaccio, but produced mainly in the Balagne and the Casinca).

You'll probably want to taste the different producers' products. The most convenient way is at the many country fairs; ideally at the Foire de l'Olivier that takes place at the end of July each year in the commune of Montegrosso. If you want to read more about olive oil, try The Essential Olive Oil Companion by Anne Dolamore, illustrated by Madeleine David.A good book to buy when your are in Corsica is called L'Olivier en Corse. It's about olives, olive trees and olive oil and it's by Felicienne Riccardi-Bartoli (published by DCL Editions, Ajaccio, in 2004).

megliu pocu cà nulla - little's worth more thannothing

Most Corsican trees produce every other year. There are two harvesting periods, one between November and January when olives are taken direct from the trees; the other isbetween February and May when the olives have dropped and are collected in nets. Extra virgin olive oil has less than 1% acidity, virgin olive oil has less than 2%, common virgin olive oil has less than 3,3%.

One of the Balagne producers is François Vincentelli at Feliceto (www.my-corsica.com) . Another is Jean-Pascal Fondacci de Paoli, who produces about 5 000 litres a year in the family mill in Santa Reparata, under the name Oliu Nustrale (less than 1.5 acidity). He also produces almonds under the Amandule Nustrale brand. He can be contacted at 04 95 60 03 65 or 06 14 82 11 76. I recommend him, not least because he has been the schoolteacher of two of my grandchildren (in bi-lingual French/Corsican classes). There are a growing number of other producers of almonds. One is Christiane and Jean Rollin at Aleria (04 95 56 60 38), but their entire 2003 crop was sadly burned to a frazzle at flowering in the heat wave.

One specialist producer is Jacques Leandri, not least because he also produces other oils, such as walnut (noix), hazelnut (noisette) and pecan (pecan). His Moulin d'Olmiccia can be contacted at 04 95 78 81 94.

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Corsican Groceries.

This is a section that will be increasing quite rapidly. there are more and more producers of Corsican Groceries, especially in areas of traditional food stuffs such as pasta.

Pasta: The Zia Maria (Aunt Mary) dry pasta range from Speranza of Calvi is super. As well as the standard pastas, they have produced someinnovative ones: Isula is in the shape of the island; Organettu is square and fluted, thus keeping its shape excellently in cooking; Cresta Rigate is a kind of crested macaroni. They are all produced from special Italian hard wheat semolina. Then there's Colomba, based in Mezzavia, who make a range of dry and fresh pastas with Corsican flavours, for exapmle their green Strozzapretti with garlic and basil; they also make a super one with chestnut flour. Watch out for them when you're in Corsica.

Sauces: A Paesana of Calvi produce a range of products that make an excellent accompaniment to the pasta described above. They make a Corsican pesto, dried tomatoes in olive oil, aubergine caviar and many others. You'll see these jar products on supermarket shelves as well as in specialist Corsican products shops.

Here's some Mediterranean recipe books that may appeal:

Healthy Mediterranean Cooking by Lorraine Whiteside; Mediterranean Diet Newly Revised & Updated by Marissa Cloutier & Eve Adamson; Olive Oil Cookery by Maher Abbas & Marilyn Spiegl; The Essential Olive Oil Companion by Anne Dolamore, illustrated by Madeleine David (if you want to read about Corsican olive oil, click here); Mediterranean Cookery (Penguin) by Claudia Roden; Mediterranean Cookery (BBC) by Claudia Roden; Claudia Roden's Foolproof Mediterranean Cookery; and the same author's Invitation to Mediterranean Cooking, 150 vegetarian and seafood recipesMediterranean Seafood by Alan Davidson;  Mediterranean Food by Elizabeth David; Mediterranean Cook by Paul Gayler; Mediterranean Recipes by Polly Baptist; Mediterranean Cook Book by Maryanne Blacker.

So here are the web site links...

Corsica Produits (www.corsica-produits.com) Corsican food, cheese, brocciu & drink online shop. You can get a great range of delicacies here and have them sent to you. This is the shop to use! There are alternatives as you'll see in the list below.

Other online shops: Corsica Shop (www.corsica-shop.com) - based in Corte. Corsica Parcels (www.corsica-colis.com), or Corsica Shopping (www.corsica-shopping.com). Kalliste Products (www.kalliste-products.fr) - in Piana. Corsicardo (www.corsicardo.com) - in Cardo. Corsicaland (www.corsicaland.com) - yet another.

Confiserie de la Cité Impériale (www.confiserie-imperiale.com) - the Esteban family's sweetie business makes some delicacies that are irresistable. They minimise the us of sugar and maximise localingredients - chestnut, myrtleberriy, fig, citron, orange, Corsican honey.. Their latest confection is Secrets Bonaparte - almond based with other Corsican ingredients.

La Table Corse (www.latablecorse.com) - the site of the regional agri-food producers of Corsica and has sections on most products as well as a few recipes by Vincent Tabarani.

Corsican Recipes 1 (www.verypro.com/regis/cucina) - a good selection of recipes from Corsican cookbooks.

Corsican Recipes 2 (membres.lycos.fr/cuisinemamananne/cuisine-corse.htm) - a simple site of Corsican food preparation. People with a knowledge of cooking and a smattering of French should be able to follow the recipes, but finding some of the ingredients outside Corsica might be harder.

Corsican Recipes 3 (www.valincoweb.com/gastronomie/recettes/recettes.html) - a Corsican micro-regional site that has a selection of recipes.

Corsican Recipes 4 (caldanu.free.fr/cuisine/cuisine.htm) - the site of a young Frenchman, Alexis Blumenfeld, who is passionate about Corsica - this is another good selection.

Orezza mineral water (www.orezza.fr) - this outstanding sparkling water is now produced by a new concessionaire with ultra modern plant in the midst of the Castagniccia region. The water was exported to Britain in the C19.

Corsican honey (www.ifrance.com/figarella) - this a site belonging to a producer - Figarella - and has good descriptive material too.

Small ruminants (www.cirval.asso.fr/) - what? This is the site of Cirval - the International Resource Centre for Small Ruminants, ie sheep and goats. It is a Corsican site specialising in milk production (the island's cattle are for veal production).

Corsica Terroirs (www.corsica-terroirs.com) - since terroir refers not only to the land, but also to the flavour it imparts to its products, this is a site that will offer you a taste of Corsica. It covers wine & aperitifs, charcuterie, meat, olive oil, cheese, chestnut products, honey, fruit and bio-products.

Citrus fruit (www.isolotto.com) - this the site of a citrus fruit farm on the eastern plain. It offers you orchard trees and ones that you can grow on your balcony. It also describes the citrus types of Corsica.

Corsican biscuits (www.canistrelli-maniccia.com) - these are very good biscuits and you can order many variants direct online.

Agricultural production (www.multimania.com/corseagriculture/) - this site is building, but has made a good start with a lot of reference matter such as law affecting farming and farm grants, as well as details of producers.

in bocca chjosa un c'entre mosca - no flies enter a closed mouth

Agricultural research (www.corse.inra.fr) in part - this is the Corsican establishment of the national agricultural research agency. It, too has a focus on citrus fruit, including the Corsican citron.

Corsican wines (www.vinsdecorse.com) - a list of the vineyards of Corsica and the lowdown on this wine region - well, several micro-regions - that grows in quality each season.

UVAL - Marana co-op wines (www.corsicanwines.com) - describes their own range and under the section devoted to Ken Rideout (of Blackfoot Wines, the US importer), there's a good general description of Corsican wine production and statistics.

Cap Corse (www.capcorsemattei.com) - Cap Corse is the long established Corsican aperitif. Read its history, and appreciate the wonderful C19 ads. They produce other fortified wines and alcohols (the site presently under reconstruction).

Charcuterie - here are two good producers in the Balagne: Costa in Urtaca (www.charcuterie-costa.com) Ange Toussaint and his son produce an excellent product and Guidoni in Calenzana (www.charcuterie-guidoni.com) - Pierre Guidoni is the village Mayor; both do mail order.

Corsican Hazelnuts (www.nuccioledicorsica.com) - the site of the Corsican hazelnut co-operative, which is affiliated to the French one and whose brand name is Koki. The site is a bit basic, but gives essential facts and contacts.

Corsican cheese 1 (www.sudmade.com) - Ange Santoni's site that offers a range of Corsican cheeses that he gets direct from the producers and are often difficult to get direct.

Corsican cheese 2 (www.fromages-corse.org) - this is essentially the site of the Venaco cheese fair, but interesting, nonetheless.

Corsican cheese 3 (www.fromage-pierucci.com) - a producer in the Casinca; an old family business that now produces a range + it's a good site for info on the subject.

Bienvenue à la Ferme (www.bienvenuealaferme.com) - here you can order honey, jam, herbs, wine, cheese,olive oil and chestnut flour.

The food and drink of Corsica feature significantly at many of the sites in the Guides section.

The Guide Restaurants de Corse by Toussaint Lenziani (published by MédiaTerra) is invaluable to anyone wanting to eat out in Corsica. It is published each year and the 2004 edition is available in bookshops in Corsica - it has many new restaurants listed since last year.

There is a new website showing restuarants in Corsica with their menus. It's well worth a visit, though its coverage is patchy, but will doubtless grow: www.restocorses.com. the site was set up by four Corsicans in their 20s at the beginning of 2004: Jean-Baptiste Martini, Vadim Forest, Julia Santolini and Stéphanie Joyce.

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