A mouth watering cuisine indeed!
Photo : Leonardo Ciannella/sxc.hu
Italian cuisine has developed through centuries of social and political changes, with roots that date as far back as 4BC. Italian cuisine has been influenced by other cuisines including Etruscan (modern English name given to an ancient civilisation of Italy), ancient Greek, ancient Roman, Byzantine (Greek-speaking continuation of the Roman empire) and Jewish. Significant changes occurred with the discovery of the New World with the introduction of items such as potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers (Capsicum) and maize, now central to our diet.
In Italy, from North to South, it is possible to find delicious and unique dishes that make our country one of the most exclusive tourist destinations, not only for its landscapes and artistic heritage, but also for its food. One of the most amazing features of the Italian cuisine is the extreme variety of recipes and special ingredients.
Each Italian region - starting from the North with Piemonte, Valle d’Aosta, Lombardia, Veneto,Trentino, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Liguria andEmilia Romagna, to those of Central Italy, Lazio,Toscana, Umbria,Marche, Abruzzo, Basilicata, Molise and, finally, the South, Puglia, Campania, Calabria, Sicilia and Sardegna -has its different cultural and climatic characteristics and special typologies of terrain and environment which influence the cultivation of important ingredients that make up the healthy and nourishing Mediterranean diet.
Among the ingredients at the base of this diet we can consider cereals - that are used for the production of pasta, pizza and bread – together with legumes, fruit, vegetables, cheese and, of course, olive oil and many other natural products coming from the earth and connected to our territory.
Talking about Italian cuisine we cannot forget another very important element like wine, for which Italy is so famous. Every Italian region has its own wine production, its own history and local traditions.Italian wines can be considered among the best in the world. From the red wines of Piemonte to the whites of Trentino, from the Grappa (grape spirit) to the Prosecco of Veneto, from the Passito of Sicilia and Sardegna, climatic and territorial differences allow the production of wineswith very different organoleptic features.Sure enough, every kind of wine accompanies a specific Italian gastronomic product. One of the most interesting things, in fact, is the possibility to combine different recipes with the right wine. Combinations can be made with products of the same region, or by coupling the tastes and flavours of different parts of Italy, giving way to new palate experiences.
The most famous Italian dish is probably pizza, as well as pasta. Pizza originates from the Italian city of Naples where it was first invented in 1889 by Chef Raffaele Esposito to honour Queen Margherita of Savoia. The ingredients of ‘Pizza Margherita’ are mozzarella, tomato and basil that recall the colours of the Italian flag. Nowadays, many different types of Pizza exist and, as a consequence of emigration, it is possible to find Pizza all over the world.
In Lombardy, where I live, the most diffused dishes are meat combined with polenta (a coarsely or finely ground yellow or white cornmeal boiled with water or stock and made as porridge) or various other vegetables. Meat can be consumed cooked but also raw in the form of salami and other typical specialties. Along with meat and vegetables, other dishes are the different types of pasta, traditionally handmade by the local people. Casoncelli and ravioli, for example, are pasta stuffed with various ingredients like cheese, meat and vegetables that are served with butter sauce and a taste of sage (an aromatic herb that helps digest fatty foods).
Visiting Italy can be a five senses experience into the world of food; every village, city and region has its own annual festival dedicated to its typical and traditional cuisine, which certainly provides a highlight to your holiday! Quinde, venete a godere!