Corsica: the Azziminu
The cuisine of the sun
First broadcast date
In Corsica, the 'Azziminu' is the Bouillabaisse. So, we need a nice trout per person, olive oil, tomatoes, marjoram, white wine, garlic, small chilies and country bread.
France Régions 3 - Own production
Credits / Cast
- Robin Claude - Speaker
- Ordines Jacques - Director
Aziminu is a Corsican version of bouillabaisse, the famous "back-from-fishing" soup found all along the Provencal coast, although particularly associated with Marseille. Usually it is prepared with sea fish, cooked in a stock with spices and herbs. The recipe has never been formally codified, simply because there are as many different varieties as there are ports, but it is commonly admitted that Corsicans like aziminu when it is rich and contains many different kinds of very fresh sea food. Unlike the Marseille version, aziminu does not necessarily contain saffron (if though it is frequently used), but fresh fennel is indispensable (out of season it is usually replaced by pastis, an alcoholic drink made from aniseed-based plants)
In this film the dish is prepared with trout. There is indeed a fresh-water fish version of Corsican bouillabaisse. Generally trout and eel are used, fished from the many rivers of this "mountain in the sea" as geographer Frederic Ratzel called it. As in all traditional rural societies the search for food was the main preoccupation of the Corsican inhabitants. For several centuries famines have regularly ravaged the countryside, the island's geography aggravating the difficulties of getting food.
Up to the early 20th century, the Corsican peasant society fed itself primarily from family-owned land and the forests and rivers around it, using exchange and barter to obtain other necessities. According to the season, hunting and fishing provided welcome additions to a meagre diet with little meat. So for centuries river fish helped the diet of shepherds and country people, particularly in the island's mountainous regions. The person who prepares aziminu, in this extract, comes from Corte, a town high up in the difficult, mountainous centre of the island. The aziminu di Corte has trout cooked in a wine sauce, with pepper and herbs.
Traditionally trout were fished by hand (tickled), with a fork, line or with a net. They were often cooked on flat stones heated in the fire. Eels were captured in bundles of firewood into which rotting meat had been put to first attract them and then imprison them, or with earth worms threaded on a fine string. Another technique of fresh-water fishing was using the natural properties of Daphne gnidium (Flax-leaved daphne or u patellu in Corsican): the roots of this wild plant, crushed and prepared in a decoction, paralyses river fish making it easier to catch them. The plant was later replaced by bleach and then by "electric fishing" (using an underwater dynamo) with disastrous consequences for the river wild-life.
So while outside the island Corsican cooking and its specialities are often presented as uniform, there are many local, micro-regional and even village variants, caused by the extraordinarily varied geography of this island.
CONSEIL NATIONAL DES ARTS CULINAIRES, L’inventaire du patrimoine culinaire de la France. Corse, Produits du terroir et recettes traditionnelles, Albin Michel, 1996.
Ricciardi-Bartoli Félicienne, Cahiers d’ethnologie corse, « Cuisine et alimentation », CRDP de Corse, 1992.
Ricciardi-Bartoli Félicienne, Cuisine corse de A à Z, C. Bonneton 1995.