Cuisine of Italy.
Along with restaurants (ristorante) in Italy there are trattorias (trattoria) , osterias (osteria) and establishments called “tavola calda” (hot cuisine) . In the cities there are also pizzerias and self-service restaurants.
In Italian restaurants it is not customary to choose a table yourself. Patrons wait for the waiter to show them a seat. The price of the meal is partly added to the service (servizio) as well as the serving (coperto) . Lunch (pranzo) usually takes place from 12.30 to 14.30, in the evening (cena) service does not begin before 19.00. In the cities the kitchen in the restaurants is long, but in smaller places after 21.00 it can be difficult.
Italian cuisine enjoys incredibly good fame because of its diversity. As for eating habits, there are peculiarities.
Italian breakfast (calazione) is often limited to cappuccino (coffee with whipped milk), espresso or caffe (strong espresso) with cookies. Hotels often serve a large buffet selection for breakfast.
Lunch (pranzo) usually consists of an appetizer (antipasto) , a first course (pasta, rice or soup), a second course (fish or meat) with vegetables (contorno) or a salad. Then you can choose between a cheese (formaggio) , dessert (dolce) or fruit (frutta). Lunch is finished with an espresso. Some people order it with alcohol – grappa, Cognac amaro or Sambuco, called corretto. During dinner (cena) the sequence of dinner courses is repeated, remember: it is rarely served before 19:30.
According to “Larousse Gastronomique”, the bible of French cuisine, “Italian cuisine is the true source of culinary art for all countries of Western Europe. Its founders were the Romans, who used not only many ingredients and seasonings growing in their own country, but also many ideas, including – culinary ideas from all sorts of countries. Even today, Italy’s culinary palette is very diverse. This is largely due to the fact that there is no single Italian cuisine. Rather the “Italian cuisine” (Cucina italiana) is a regional cuisine and a symbol of the diverse regional traditions. Their peculiarities are connected with the local products, because the people living there depend in their menu on what they themselves have grown in their very different lands.
Pizza is probably the most famous Italian dish
The cuisine of the Aosta Valley is rather simple. The first course is usually a hearty soup – it might be the usual bread and cheese soup, or cheese soup with Savoy cabbage – zuppa di Valpelline, so named after a small place in the Aosta Valley. Smoked meats such as brisket and loin, as well as cheese, bread baked by hand, butter and cream play an important role in the cuisine. River fish, trout, and tench from clear mountain streams or lakes are cooked without frills – the simplest way.
Spaghetti is No. 2 in the ranking of famous dishes
In neighboring Piedmont, the meat is not fried, but rather roasted, as in a dish of different kinds of boiled meat, bolitto misto. It is served with a green sauce or a traditional Italian side dish – fruit in mustard syrup. Very popular is the hot sauce bagna caoda – a spicy garlic gravy with anchovies, cooked on the basis of olive oil, milk and cream. It is used to season salads or vegetables. Piedmont cuisine can also be characterized as a typical autumn cuisine, as its main ingredients are white truffles, mushrooms and all kinds of game, which are served with strong red wines.
The cuisine of Trentino and South Tyrol has different roots: Italian-Venetian and Austro-Tyrolian. It is an uncomplicated cuisine, usually with a small number of dishes. Almost all meats are smoked, such as pork, beef, veal, goose, horse meat and even donkey meat. Smoked meats are served with bread and butter or side dishes such as sauerkraut and potatoes. No less important in the cuisine of South Tyrol are soups: meat, flour, vegetable, dairy, tripe soup or the famous soup with meatballs from smoked meat (canederli). South Tyrol and Trentino have extensive fruit plantations, where apples, pears, plums, apricots and grapes grow particularly well.
And in third place in popularity, of course, is risotto.
In contrast to the simple cuisine of the mountainous regions in the neighboring Veneto region, the cuisine is refined and fancy. Fish dishes clearly bear the imprint of Byzantine cuisine: for example, fish is often cooked with the addition of small raisins, pine nuts and spices. But the main ingredient of Veneto cuisine is rice (Veneto is one of the main rice-growing areas) and coarse beans. Rice is cooked in many variations: it is rice soup, the so-called spring soup, which is cooked with tomatoes, celery stalks, cabbage heads, asparagus heads, hop shoots, pumpkin, potatoes, spinach, savoy cabbage and zucchini. We must also mention the famous local dish risi e bisi (rice with green peas). Veneto is also the homeland of pandoro, a kind of Christmas cakes.
Friuli Giulia Venezia is not a rich region. Unlike Veneto cuisine, the food here is very simple, dense and delicious. The main dish is porridge made of corn flour (polenta) . It is cooked in the oven or over an open fire until it becomes as thick as pudding. The polenta is served with sliced salami, pork, certain kinds of poultry or even fish. Julia Venezia’s pork dishes are of great quality. Particularly famous and delicious is the ham from San Daniele. In Friuli the parts considered not too refined are also used in cooking: the ham skin, pork legs or pork snout. Typical seafood can be enjoyed in Trieste.
Grana Padano Cheese
Lombard cuisine is too varied to be described as a single cuisine. In the alpine areas of this region dense dishes are prepared, a cuisine similar to the mountain cuisines already described. It is also cooked or fried with butter rather than olive oil. In higher places, polenta is especially preferred. If in Milan, where there are many restaurants for true gourmets, the cuisine is the most varied, then in the other provinces it is customary to follow quite different traditions. In general the region is known for very high quality meat. Everywhere are preparing dishes from veal, beef and pork, and the meat is brought to the maturity slowly. Of the cheeses should be especially mentioned grana padano (rival of Parmesan), stracchino, taleggio, robiola and bitto. A special local dish from the Padana Valley to the Delta is the frogs, eel and pygmy catfish (rane, anquille, pesci gatto) deep-fried or stewed in tomato sauce.
Ravioli stuffed with pork and sprinkled with green onions
Bordering Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna is considered the culinary center of Italy. Its most famous products are balsamic vinegar, parmigiano cheese and prosciotto di Parma ham. Pork and pork sausage play an important role in local cuisine. Other famous products are mortadella and stuffed pork shank (zampone) . Other famous products are egg dough, above all tortellini and ravioli, stuffed with all sorts of fillings: lean meat, ricotta (curd mass), herbs, zucca, chicken giblets, game, pork, raisins and cheese. They are served in a sauce, usually fatty, such as one made from cream, butter and cheese, or from broth and stew. Closer to the coast, many fish are eaten, including eels from Comacchio (Comacchio) , and fish brodetto soup.
Lasagna is another traditional Italian dish.
The Ligurian cuisine is much more refined with fish dishes. In addition it contains everything that grows in the orchards, fields and hills, spicy herbs, nuts, mushrooms, for example. Basil and olive oil are of particular importance in the local cuisine. These seasonings are indispensable to make the famous pesto genovese (pesto genovese) sauce. It is filled with pine nuts (pinioli) and cheese and served with a long, thin noodle called trenette, so called only in Liguria. Pesto is used in a variety of ways and is even added to vegetable soup minestrone.
Tuscan cuisine is simple, and the dishes are made mainly from products grown in the local agriculture. Beef, vegetables, olive oil, herbs and wine are used here. The food is prepared as naturally as possible. For example, bistecca Fiorentina (meat from a breed of white Chiapina cows) is served without sauce, just drizzled with olive oil and seasoned only with salt and pepper. Pork (maiale) is also very popular. Not to forget the small white beans (fagioli), which are used in soups, main courses and as a side dish. For dessert we recommend panforte: the traditional Tuscan Christmas cake, or cantucci macaroons, accompanied by a glass of Vin Santo wine.
Mozzarella cheese is drizzled with olive oil
In nearby Umbria, the cuisine is also simple, which does not prevent it from being extremely delicious. It depends on the season. The most important ingredients are local and therefore very fresh and of excellent quality. Worth mentioning, for example, Umbrian olive oil, which is considered one of the best in Italy, or truffles. In the cuisine of Umbria pork also plays a major role, which is evident in the countless delicacies. The center of Umbria’s regional cuisine is the small mountain town of Norcia, home to all the best pork butchers. Even today, pigs graze free and are fed on acorns.
In the neighboring Marche region the cuisine is rich and varied, not least because of its location between the hills and the sea. The famous and delicious brodetto di Ancona is a kind of soup made from no less than thirteen varieties of fish. The motto of the local cuisine is to stuff, stuff and stuff again! It can be fish, chicken, pigeon or the locals’ favourite dish, the suckling pig (porchetta). The vincisgrassi, a noodle casserole with meat sauce, is exceptionally exquisite and can only be tasted in the Marche. Dessert wine is added to the noodle dough to enhance the flavor, and cinnamon is added to the meat sauce.
In the cuisine of Abruzzo and Molise, peperoncino, a hot red pepper, rules the ball. Many dishes even have a red hue. This cuisine is said to be diabolical, but cheerful; it uses a lot of fire: fire in the fireplace, fire in the food and even in the drinks. The reason for this love of fire is because of the cold weather. It is a long and snowy winter in these parts. A particularly exquisite local dish is maccheroni alia chitarra. Maccheroni – here ribbon noodles – are served with a sauce made of tomatoes, smoked bacon or bacon, spicy herbs and a little sheep cheese – pecorino or with lamb ragout. Since sheep farming plays an important role in the region, there are many good varieties of cheese.
Spaghetti with seafood and red peppers
Lazio cuisine is also called Roman cuisine. Although there isn’t really a typical Roman cuisine, the Romans knew a lot about how to preserve the traditional dishes. This cuisine is not complicated. Especially recommended to try the milk lamb in garlic sauce – abbacchio alia romana, a dish that the people of Rome loved back in the Middle Ages. Fish is almost unknown in Roman cuisine, except for small eels from the Tiber (cariole) or calamari. But the emphasis is on great fresh vegetables: artichokes, broccoli, peas, large beans (fave), which are eaten more in the region than elsewhere.
In neighboring Campania, they love the outdoor life. The local cuisine is similar to the inhabitants of the region themselves – it is just as open and devoid of secrets. Everyone here knows how to cook. “National dish” is considered a pizza in all kinds of variations, but always crispy. The number of dishes made from a variety of pastas is almost inexhaustible. So, there are pasta with tomato sauce (fusilli alia napolitana), spaghetti with seafood (spaghetti alle vongole), feathers with olives and capers (penne alia puttanesca), vermicelli with tomato sauce (vermicelli col pomodoro) and much more. There is never a shortage of vegetables and cheese on the table. Fish also occupies an honorable place in the local cuisine.
Fish and seafood in Puglia are the ultimate culinary art. For example stuffed shells (cozze ripiene), baked fish aurata (orata alia pugliese) or Apulian fish soup. Oysters and large mussels are delivered from Taranto. Apulian cuisine is rustic. The traditional local product is dried tomatoes, which are made in every house. Vegetables here in general are often dried and then canned in oil. Typical vegetables of the region are eggplant, paprika, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and, of course, olives.
Puglia olive oil is highly prized and has a great taste. On any menu in the region you can find a dish called orecchiette – pasta in the form of small ears with a sauce of turnip tops or broccoli.
Stuffed leg of pork
In neighboring Basilicata, things are a bit Spartan. It’s a rugged region whose residents are familiar with the flavors of many herbs. Central to the cuisine is pork, primarily the production of sausages, which sometimes have a pronounced and very spicy taste. Red hot pepper – peperonico – is consumed in immense quantities. The main dishes (secondi piatti) consist mainly of vegetables, which are most often cooked in the oven, such as eggplant with olives, anchovies, capers and tomatoes. The traditional dish piatto d’erba is made with onions, eggplant, paprika, tomatoes with parsley, basil and garlic. Basilicata, like many other regions, is famous for fine cheeses, scamorza, caciocavallo, provolone and ricotta are especially good.
Sicilian cuisine could be described in one word – baroque, so it is abundant and multi-colored. Meals are always served with luxury, even if it’s just plain pasta. True, it is pasta which is the queen of all dishes in Sicily. To understand this passion of Sicilians, it is worth at least once to try the famous pasta from the province of Ragusa – ncasciata. The pasta with sardines (pasta con le sarde) is very tasty, as is the Cornucopia filled with gravy (pasta ala norma). A dish inherited from the Arabs, couscous (cuscusu) is also popular. The Sicilian version of couscous is prepared with fish and seafood and is particularly popular in the Trapani area and the nearby islands. Sweet dishes are a very valuable part of Sicilian cuisine. It’s based on marzipan, almonds and candied fruit. They look very colorful and made with great imagination – just like a baroque splendor.
The suckling pig on a spit
Sardinia is a little world in itself, where grows, blooms and fruits everything you want. There is meat of all varieties, and cheese, fish and game, vegetables and wine – and all of excellent quality. Each village has its own traditions – and in terms of ingredients for dishes. The island is incredibly rich in fresh, home-grown produce. Pork lovers will absolutely enjoy the famous porceddu dish – suckling pig cooked on a wooden spit over fragrant firewood, which gives the meat a special flavour and aroma. Fish are also recommended, from orate and mormore to eel or exquisite lobster. Sardinia also has a huge selection of excellent cheeses. The most famous amongst them is the sheep cheese, pecorino, which varies in maturity from soft to hard. A specialty of the island is the so-called carta da musica (sheet music), the finest flat bread that the shepherds took with them during their wanderings.
Standard drinks appropriate to all dishes are wine (vino) and mineral water (aqua minerale, gasata). Beer (birra) is also served, usually light Italian, but you can also get foreign beer (birra estera) – German, Danish, Dutch. Common refreshments are orangeade (aranciata) , lemonade (limonata) and various fruit juices (succo di. ) . Very often the wine for the table (vino da pasto or vino da tavola) is served either in a carafe (1L, 0.5L, 0.25L – un litro/un mezzo litro/un quarto litro) or in a glass (un bicchiere). The wines of great ageing and high quality are served, as usual, in closed bottles.
Gastronomic regions of Italy
A culinary journey to Tuscany is an opportunity to learn the secrets of the famous Florentine steak. Tuscany is the birthplace of this legendary dish that surprises not only in taste but also in size. The 1.5 kilo steak is cooked from a very special kind of beef – Chianina. The process of cooking the dish is quite unusual, interesting and definitely worth attention. Unleavened bread, Pecorino cheese made of sheep’s milk, crispy Kantuchchi cookies, all sorts of bean dishes are other traditional regional dishes. In Tuscany the gastronomic heritage of Italy, shaped by the peculiar nature, climate and centuries-old history of the country, is revealed in a special way. The cuisine here is simple and keeps the old traditions, but at the same time takes into account the modern trends.
A culinary trip to Italy does not ignore this amazing region, which has an ancient and valuable tradition rich in excellent food. A gastronomic tour in Umbria is a tasting of dishes from river fish, sweet bread Panpepato (Panpepato), pasta frascarelli (frascarelli). A special pride of Umbria is the black truffle. The gathering of these royal mushrooms is accompanied by a number of traditions, in which tourists can also take part if they wish. “Truffle Hunt” – a special event involving the collection of black truffles in the early morning. Newcomers are assisted by hunters with dogs that are trained to find them. On the whole, a culinary journey to Umbria leaves a lot of unconventional, but pleasant impressions.
Sicily is not only a land of art and sea, but also of amazing flavors. In search of a vivid culinary experience, it is worth going here. Famous ingredients for quality and flavor include pistachios, citrus fruits, Sicilian blackberries, and with them all derivative products such as jelly and pistachio cream. A culinary journey to Sicily is also an introduction to such an unusual dish as boiled giblets. Here they are cooked according to a special recipe. Another interesting product is kukuncha. This is the fruit of caperberries, which are poured over coarse sea salt and eaten in a variety of forms. In general, the cuisine of Sicily is a collection of thousands of years of culinary traditions of the many civilizations that have ever lived in the region.
The region’s location has a great influence on shaping its culinary culture. The famous “Via del Sale”, the “salt route”, which attracts many travelers, runs through the region. Throughout its existence, many commodities have passed through the region, some of which have left their mark on the culinary scene. A prime example is anchovies in green sauce, which is a traditional dish of the Piedmont. From the gastronomic point of view this region is one of the richest and most diverse in Italy. Meats, cheeses, vegetables, pasta and truffles are prepared here with great skill. Among the hundreds of dishes that are part of the regional gastronomic tradition, there are some that represent the Piedmont cuisine much more than others. The most famous is Gran bollito. This dish is cooked in large quantities from 7 pieces of selected beef, adding sauces, herbs and other simple ingredients. They also serve Castelmagno cow’s milk cheese, offering to try it together with honey. Another typical regional snack is raw meat – thin slices of veal seasoned with lemon juice and spices.
What else is remarkable gastronomic Italy
A culinary trip to Sicily, Piedmont or any other part of this sunny country is rich and full of pleasant experiences due to the cordiality and hospitality of the locals. Tourists here enjoy special attention and have the opportunity to have the best culinary experience. If you want, you can try making handmade real pasta, take part in cooking fresh seafood or pizza, learn how to make Italian coffee. In Italy, every traveler can find something interesting just for yourself. Attendance to master classes is usually included in the cost of a culinary trip, so when choosing a gastronomic tour, it is recommended to consider personal preferences.