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Sunday, June 20, 2010


I enjoyed the lovely island of Corsica which has retained much of its original culture and language. When I mention "original culture" my Mom mentioned that she associates Corsica with pirates. Is that true? she asked. Well, here is the unofficial Corsican flag which you see everywhere:

Corsican history also includes words such as "vendetta" and "maquis" and there is still a perceptible current of antiestablishmentarianism. (Thank you Sonia)

Corsica has its own language which looks a little like Italian, but is NOT Italian. The language has seen a resurgence in the last several years and is now taught in schools. It was quite common to hear the language spoken in the streets. Incidentally, there are different dialects spoken in the north of the country (Bastia) vs the south (Ajaccio). The differences in culture and language from north to south and between mainland France and the island of Corsica are not dissimilar to the differences between northern and southern Italy and the Italian islands of Sardinia and Sicily.

Tourism represents a major source of revenue for Corsica and has spared the island from the impact of the recent recession. You see very little of the tourist development that defines resorts like Cancun. In fact, the locals go to great lengths to inhibit residents from "selling out" to developers. Bombings and intimidation are not unknown! That said, I always felt very safe there. There are many advantages when traveling as a gray-haired female. I am usually not seen as a threat or as a target of unwelcome attention.

Finally, I cannot leave Corsica without talking a little bit more about the food.
Corsica is known for its cured meats and cheeses. Here are a couple of photos of just two of the courses featured in a 5 course fixed price meal that I had one evening. This was the first course including local cured meats and homemade terrine de sanglier:

The cheese plate with fig jam was the fourth course. It followed the charcuterie, the tarte au brocciu, and the main course - a delicious but heavy veal stew with polenta. The cheese was followed by dessert - ice cream with chestnut sauce. Everything was good, but too copious and too heavy before bed!

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