One of the most popular cuisines on the planet, with dishes known around the world, is undoubtedly Italian. It is a traditional, diverse, and outstandingly simple cuisine.
Italian cuisine is internationally known for such famous dishes as pizza, pasta, or risotto, typical specialties with one and a thousand original versions and not so much, but this cuisine framed within Mediterranean gastronomies is very extensive and diverse. It is food as varied as its region, as broad as its history and as traditional as the country is.
The Italian cuisine finds its roots in the kitchens of ancient Greece, ancient Rome, and Arab cuisine. The dominance of the ancient Romans by much of the European continent and part of Africa, as well as the establishment of other peoples in parts of present-day Italy, shaped some customs around food from different historical periods and, above all, everything from different peoples and cultures.
The roots of Italian cuisine go back to the 4th century BC. It was influenced by Etruscan, Ancient Greek, Ancient Roman, Byzantine, Jewish and Arabic cuisine. Important innovations came after the colonization of America with the introduction of new ingredients such as potatoes, peppers, and especially tomatoes.
Italy is a vast country, inhabited by different ethnic groups, with different climatic and geographical conditions. This, but also the changeable historical fate, ensured that the individual regions, cities, and towns produced very different culinary specialties. On the other hand, many dishes that were previously only known in their area of origin have now spread throughout the country.
Characteristics of Italian cuisine
Italian cuisine is recognized not only as one of the best in the world, but also one of the most fashionable today. Although in our time, the majority of Turmans considered French cuisine, the pinnacle of culinary art, we must not forget that the foundations of culinary art were laid in Italy. Emperor Franz also brought Italian cuisine at his court, which developed and spread further and further, especially after the wedding of his son with Catherine de Medici in 1533. Italy was an outpost of gourmets back in the days of the Roman Empire, and anyone who went to a good restaurant in this country will surely confirm this.
Italy is a country eternal and young at the same time. Each of its provinces has a rich history. Perhaps this fact can explain the extraordinary variety of Italian cuisine. Different parts of the country have their own peculiarities of cooking individual dishes, their recipes, and their traditions.
The northern regions of Italy have long been engaged in cattle breeding, thanks to which the main products used by Italian housewives were milk, butter, and meat. It was here, in the north, that thick, rich Italian soups, nutritious lasagna, flavored cheese, and the famous Italian ice cream were born.
In the south, where the mountains rise, there were no pastures, but the mild climate provided consistently good harvests of fruits and vegetables, and various herbs that the Italians added to food grew here. Mistresses of the south of Italy discovered and presented the world with recipes for risotto, Italian salads, and gourmet sauces.
Love for herbs
A characteristic feature of Italian cuisine is a love of herbs. Italians put basil and saffron in their dishes more often than any other chef in the world. It is noteworthy that many Italian cooking traditions were brought not by professional chefs or even hostesses who had spent many years at the stove, but by people who were somehow connected with architecture. So, an architect became the first to add saffron to food; before that, he used grass as one of the components of his paints. And ice cream, according to legend, was invented by an Italian architect.
Dry, languished in cellars for two years, Parmesan – aromatic, grated or cut into small pieces, it is an integral part of an Italian dish that combines all the ingredients and gives it a unique taste. This cheese ripens in the cellars for at least two years, and as a result, it becomes dry, easily crumbles. It can be stored for months without losing its qualities. Or that famous one, with the blue mold of Gorgonzola. Cheese in Italy is used in the preparation of pizza, pasta, and many other dishes, and can also be served separately.
To say that pasta is renowned as the symbol of Italian cuisine is like saying nothing. Archaeologists first discovered the tools for cooking pasta in Etruscan graves. And in 1000 AD, the patriarchal chef Martin Korno already wrote the book “Culinary Art of Sicilian Vermicelli and Pasta.” It is sufficient to know that pasta in Italy is not only the name of pasta but also a synonym for the word “food” in general. So the request to cook at the same time sounds like “give pasta”! Today in Italy there are more than 300 different types of pasta, not only of various shapes but also of multiple colors; green with chopped spinach, orange with carrot juice, pink with the addition of tomatoes, black with cuttlefish ink and combined skeins of green and yellow egg noodles, which the Italians themselves call “hay straw.”
Some of the most popular varieties of pasta are:
Cannelloni – closest to spring rolls (liver with mushrooms, ham with peas, etc.), served with different sauces;
Angelotti – similar to dumplings, but with a skinny layer of filling (meat or cottage cheese and spinach);
Cappelletti Romagnoli – medium-sized pasta in the form of “little hats”;
Gnocchi – dumplings made from flour with butter, potatoes, cheese, eggs, and other components;
Pappardelle – noodles cut into wide strips, about 2×4 cm;
Tagliatelle – flat noodles cut into long strips about 1 cm wide;
Penne – thick short pasta cut into pieces at an acute angle and similar to feathers;
Ravioli – a kind of dumplings from thin dough;
rigatoni – thick pasta 4 to 5 cm long with longitudinal lines applied;
Lasagna – baked between several small plates of noodles meat or mushroom filling with cheese;
Tortellini – pasta in the form of “rosebuds” stuffed with spinach and ricotta cottage cheese;
Spaghetti – very long thin pasta;
Fettuccine – thin noodles.
Thus, the main characteristic of traditional Italian cuisine is its simplicity, with numerous dishes that consist of only a few ingredients. The Italian cooks rely more on the quality of the ingredients than on their number and elaborate preparation. The recipes were created more often by grandmothers and mothers than by restaurant chefs and are therefore perfect home-made food. Many traditional dishes, which have become “specialties” over time, come from the simple cuisine of the farmers. Italian cuisine has remained a genuine cuisine to this day, using natural ingredients. Pasta, Cheese, Herbs, Vegetables, and wine play a significant role in it.