Como Lake: Food and Products






To the principal fish, which feature in the most famous dishes offered by restaurants on Lake Como (whitefish, twaite shad ,perch, trout) are added less well-known fish (carp, “cavedano”, eel, pike, bleek), and then complimented by regional methods of preparation.

Lake Como not only has fish but also a top quality vegetable colture; the olive tree cultivation which produces today a precious DOP (of protected origin) oil has remained through the years and has even been strenghtened up.

Without forgetting all the dairy products, from pastureland butter to cheeses with the strangest of names: caprini, casorette, zincarlin, semude, piazzavachera, caprinotti, perfect either on their own or to finish off a meal. Fat cheese is a typical product of the mountain dairies. It is produced from full-fat cow’s milk and as it is not skimmed, it maintains all its organoleptic properties. Even nowadays cooking is done in copper cauldrons over wood fires and the cheese is left to season in natural caves or cellars for at least three months. Valsassina excels in the production of dairy goods thanks to its pastures and caves, which retain constant temperatures and humidity all year round and are perfect for the natural seasoning of cheeses. There the most well-known product is “Taleggio” cheese, but we should not forget “caprini”, both delicate and spicy, “formaggelle”, “ricotta”, rustic salamis and excellent butter.


Is possible to find at least three local types of cuisine in the Como lake area. The lake one uses the fish, as its principal ingredient. Risotto with perch fillets is Lake Como’s “national dish”, but also other specialities retain the simple and popular gastronomic tradition. The “missultitt”, now italianized missoltini, this fish is the ‘agoni’ fish, caught between May and June, sun dried and pressed with salt in wooden barrels called missolte. And also: the ‘carpione’, fried and marinated fish in water and vinegar, aromatized with “segrigiola” herb; fried ‘alborelle’, smoked trouts in oil, whitefish (lavarello) cooked in white wine and the Tremezzina fish soup with pike, small trout, “cavedano” fish, “bottattrice” fish and perch. Among the desserts, the Resta of Como is worth mentioning, made with dried and candied fruit and a small olive twig in its mix, which brings peace and good fortune.
In the valley and mountain areas the cuisine is humble, based essentially on polenta (a boiled maize flour dish), which can be “vuncia” with cheese, butter and garlic or “balota”, small balls of polenta with a cheese filling; “tocc”, polenta made using different types of flour with butter and cheese; “urgiada”, pearl barley cooked on an open smoky fire; “furmentada”, a wheat soup from Val d’Intelvi with pig skins; “mataloch”, a dessert with dried and candied fruits; “miascia”, made with stale bread, butter, milk, eggs, sugar and red wine; “ragell”, a digestive liquor made with red wine, sugar, cloves, cinnamon, pieces of apple and brandy, and then flambéed in the “tocc” pan.
The Brianza area has predominantly “heavy” specialities like “cazzoeula” or “casöla” (a pork stew with cabbage), “busecca” or “foiolo” (tripe), polenta and birds, “cotecotti con fagioli” (sausage and beans), “rustisciada”, a typical Brianza dish made with pork fillets and sausages fried with onions, polenta, sausage and beans, rabbit cooked Brianza style in traditional sauces, a Californian style cooked beef, a very tasty stewed sirloin that takes its name from an old farmhouse on the road between Viganò and Monza. There are no particularly traditional desserts with the humble ingredients of most of the dishes not matching up to a confectionary tradition. You can try the typical “cutizza”, a homemade focaccia made of flour, milk, sugar and lemon peel, the “masigott” of Erba and the “nocciolini” of Canzo.

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