The contribution of the Genoese community

The contribution of the Genoese community
2010. Gibraltar. Poster for the 'Fiesta popular de la Calentita' in Casemates Square. Photograph: Beatriz Díaz Martínez © Beatriz Díaz Martínez

The contribution of the Genoese community

In 1753 the Genoese made up 34 percent of the civil population of Gibraltar. They were traders, artisans and fishermen. The well-known Gibraltar families Capurro, Risso, Russo, Galliano, Danino and Gaggero are of Genoese origin. When La Línea was founded in 1870 there were already many Genoese and Neapolitan families in the area. Some lived in the so-called Huerto de los Genoveses, where they grew chrysanthemums, roses, carnations, dahlias, spikenards and daisies.

The Genoese language, a variant of Ligurian, was spoken in Gibraltar until the 20th century. Genoese culture is still evident in recipes, games and daily customs among the cross-border community. «Calentita» is a traditional Genoese savoury dish found in La Línea and Gibraltar, but also in northern Maghreb, Italy, and Argentina. In Gibraltar, calentita has become an identity symbol, which is why events such as that in the poster promote it.

Francisca Aguilar remembers that when she was a child they sold calentita in the streets of La Línea and Gibraltar. This is her recipe:

«The ingredients are four glasses of water, a glass of sunflower oil less two fingers, a quarter of a kilo of chick-pea flour, an egg, salt and pepper. Mix it all up into a light mix until there are no lumps. Put it on a tray in the oven at 250º for half an hour. Take it out of the oven and allow to cool and settle.»