The beauty of Italy is not limited to majestic architecture, rich history and local attractions. It extends to the amazing ability of Italians to create real masterpieces around themselves not only in art, but also in cooking.
This is because they are very meticulous about the process of cooking, and about the choice of the right ingredients. The preference is always given to seasonal products. After all, they win and their taste and useful properties. By the way, culinary experts assert that the key to success of Italian national cuisine is not just in this.
It’s the timing. The taste and beauty of skillfully prepared dishes were learned to appreciate even in the times of the Roman Empire (27 B.C. – 476 A.D.). At that time the feasts with countless delicacies, organized by the Roman emperors, were famous all over the world. This is when Italian cuisine began to emerge. Later its recipes were improved and supplemented, time-tested and gradually spread to other countries.
As a result, in the 16th century cooking in Italy was elevated to an art form. At this time, the Vatican librarian Bartolomeo Sacchi published a unique cookbook, “On True Pleasures and Welfare,” which was in great demand among Italians. It was later reprinted six times. And it was after its publication that schools began to appear in Florence, where cooking skills were taught.
One of the peculiarities of Italian cuisine is its regional character. So historically, there were significant differences between the northern and southern cuisines of Italy. The former was fabulously rich, which is why it was home to exquisite pasta made of cream and eggs. The second was poor. Nevertheless, here they learned how to make amazing dry pasta and pasta products, as well as terrific dishes from inexpensive but nutritious ingredients. Much has changed since then. However, the differences in Northern and Southern dishes have still remained in the flavors, which are now achieved by the use of different seasonings, less often ingredients.
The main products of Italian dishes:
- Fresh vegetables – tomatoes, green peppers, carrots, onions, celery, potatoes, asparagus, zucchini. And fruits – apricots, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, kiwi, citrus fruits, apples, blueberries, peaches, grapes, plums;
- fish and seafood, especially shrimp and oysters;
- cheeses as well as milk and butter;
- Meat, beef, lean pork, or poultry are preferred. Although Italian women often substitute them for cheese;
- olive oil. It was highly valued by the ancient Romans. Today it is sometimes replaced by pork fat. However, in Italy we do not use sunflower oil;
- Herbs and spices – basil, marjoram, saffron, cumin, rosemary, oregano, sage, garlic;
- cereals, but rice is preferred;
- walnuts and chestnuts;
- wine – the national drink. A jug of wine is an obligatory attribute of the Italian table.
Time has had almost no impact on the methods and traditions of cooking in Italy. As before, here they prefer to stew, boil, roast or bake. And also cook meat for ragout as a whole. Just like the cooks of the Roman Empire used to do.
The discussion about Italian cuisine is endless. Nevertheless, it has a number of the most famous and popular dishes that have become its “business card”. Among them:
Pesto, a favorite sauce of Italians made of fresh basil, cheese and pine nuts and dressed with olive oil. By the way, Italy is very fond of sauces, recipes of which here number in the hundreds, if not thousands.
Pizza. This dish once conquered the whole world. In its classic version, tomatoes and cheese are piled on a thin round flatbread. All this is seasoned with spices and baked. Although in fact there are a huge number of variations of pizza recipes, including in Italy itself. Even the flatbread in the south of the country is made thin, and in the north – thick. Oddly enough, but the birthplace of pizza scientists call Greece.
Since ancient times, the Greeks were famous for their baking talents. They were the first to put the cheese on flat flat sheets of unleavened dough, calling such a dish “Plakuntos. There are many legends swarming around its creation and distribution. Some of them say that from time to time the Greeks added other ingredients to the flatbread, in which case they called it “plaquette. Others tell of Roman legionaries who, coming from Palestine, showed an amazing dish called “picea. It was a flattened bread with cheese and vegetables.
One way or another, but in the XVII century pizza spread throughout Europe. It happened thanks to the Neapolitan sailors. Hence the name of one of the types of pizza. By the way, the same in Italy is protected by law. It specifies the size of a “proper” Neapolitan pizza (up to 35cm in diameter), the type of yeast, flour, tomatoes and other ingredients used in its preparation. Owners of pizzerias, who comply with all these requirements, get the right to mark their dishes with a special sign “STG”, which is a guarantee of the authenticity of the classic recipe.
By the way, in Italy, in addition to pizza, you can also meet a dish called “pizzaiolli”. This term is used by masters, who know the ancient secrets of its preparation.
Pasta. A dish that is also associated with Italy.
Risotto. In preparing it, rice is stewed in a broth with wine and meat, mushrooms, vegetables or seafood are added.
Ravioli. This dish resembles our dumplings, but differs in the filling. In Italy, in addition to meat, they contain fish, cheese, seafood, curd, and vegetables.
Lasagna. A dish consisting of several layers of dough, stuffing, sauce and cheese.
Caprese. One of the popular salads, which is made with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, olive oil and basil.
Gnocchi. A dumpling made of semolina or potato grits.
Another variation of polenta.
Minestrone. Vegetable soup with pasta.
Carpaccio. Slices of raw fish or meat in olive oil and lemon juice.
Another variation of carpaccio.
Pancetta. A dish made from pork brisket cured in salt and spices.
Frittata. A baked vegetable omelet.
Bruschetta. Croutons with cheese and vegetables.
Grissini and ciabatta. Breadsticks and sandwich rolls that have been baked since the 14th century.
Biscotto. Dry cookies.
Tiramisu. A dessert based on mascarpone cheese and coffee.
Italian cuisine is incredibly diverse. But its uniqueness is that the Italians never stand still, inventing or borrowing something new. And not only the culinary experts, but also ordinary people who want to contribute to the culinary history of their country. For example, the ice cream we all love was also created by an Italian, an architect by profession.
Italian cuisine is also considered one of the healthiest. It implies minimal heat treatment in the preparation of dishes and the use of only quality products. Ideally – a variety of fruits and vegetables. Also here they love pasta from durum wheat with a minimum of calories and fat. In addition, Italy makes wide use of seasonings.
In all this variety lies the zest of Italian cuisine. However, as well as the secret of the excellent health and longevity of Italians. On average, women here live to 85 years, and men – to 80. In Italy they practically do not smoke and do not drink strong alcohol, except wine in moderate amounts. Therefore, only 10% of Italians suffer from obesity.
However, scientists attribute these figures not so much to the health benefits of Italian cuisine as to the desire of Italians themselves to live a long and healthy life.
Please note: This information is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a diagnosis or treatment. Always consult a doctor!
Italian national cuisine is so rich and versatile that it is an independent symbol of this great country, along with history, architecture, fashion and sights. Tourists and gourmets from all over the world come to Italy for the delicious food of its restaurants, quality products, fragrant herbs and delicate desserts.
Italians are very picky while choosing ingredients for their culinary masterpieces, and the cooking process itself, which in Italian cooking is truly creative. The peculiarity of Italian cuisine is that the chefs at local restaurants always try to use only seasonal products for their masterpieces that are not subject to freezing or transportation. That way the food becomes both tastier and much healthier. Precisely these properties justify the Italian food its incredible caloric content, which does not prevent Italian restaurants nevertheless remain at the top of popularity throughout the world.
History of formation and formation
Italian cuisine has always been notable for its taste and aesthetic characteristics. Italians learnt to appreciate all these features during the Roman Empire that existed on the territory of modern Italy from 27 B.C. till 476 A.D.
In those days, the Roman emperors constantly held feasts with lots of delicious exotic dishes. This period is the starting point in the birth of modern Italian cuisine. And not only Italian cuisine, as the Roman Empire had a great influence on other countries which were its parts, that’s why dishes of Italian cooks were spreading all over the world, improving and changing, becoming habitual for tastes of people in many countries of the world.
The culinary art of Italy culminated in the 16th century, when the Vatican published a cookbook “Of true pleasures and prosperity,” subsequently reprinted six times. After its publication cookery began to be studied as a science, it was elevated in Italy to the rank of a real art, in Florence the first culinary schools were founded, where the first certified Italian chefs learned the wisdom of cooking and serving food.
The history of Italian cuisine helps to understand its peculiarities, first of all, the regionality of many dishes. Historically, northern Italian cuisine has always been very rich; it is in this part of the country that the masterpieces of world cookery originated. Northern Italy is considered the birthplace of pasta, which was usually cooked with eggs and cream. The cuisine of the southern part of Italy was always quite poor, but the talent of culinary genius was apparently in the Italians’ blood, so even with a very scarce set of products they learned to make amazing dishes from dried pasta and other inexpensive but very nutritious components. Over time, the material situation in different parts of this state has changed, but the difference in cuisine still remains. Today it is achieved by adding to food all kinds of spices and products that are not traditional for classic Italian cuisine.
Products of Italian cuisine
In Italy it is customary to cook exclusively from their own regional products, fortunately the country is quite rich in a variety of plant and animal gifts. Many of the famous sauces Italians prepare from fresh fruits and vegetables. Tomatoes, carrots, peppers, potatoes, zucchini, asparagus, celery, onions grow and are very popular here. They are used as ingredients for salads, as side dishes, and as appetizers. The Mediterranean climate is favorable for growing and eating apricots, all kinds of citrus fruits, cherries, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, kiwi, apples, plums, peaches, blueberries.
All sorts of seafood and fish of different kinds are used by Italians for cooking soups, main courses and snacks. Cheeses and dairy products enjoy great popularity and are eaten both as such and as a base for Italian salads, desserts, sauces. Many kinds of meat the locals also like to replace cheeses, considering it more healthy. But still in Italy they actively eat lean pork, beef, chicken and other poultry.
Italian cuisine, which national dishes are famous for the abundance of ingredients, is unthinkable without the base of any food – olive oil. Olive oil was highly valued even in Roman times, because even then all its useful qualities were clear and revealed its beneficial effects on the human body. In modern Italian cooking olive oil replaces absolutely any fat, sauce or seasoning. At least, popular in other countries sunflower oil in the culinary traditions of Italy is not listed at all.
Grass in Italian cuisine is a separate line of poetic perception of reality through the prism of cooking. In this country herbs can make the main sounding in absolutely any dish. Meat and vegetables cannot be cooked in Italian without using herbs. Many dishes are prepared with the use of basil, sage, oregano, marjoram, saffron, garlic, rosemary, cumin.
Also Italians skilfully cook and eat various kinds of mushrooms, beans, rice and other cereals, chestnuts, and nuts. The traditional drink of Italy has always been and remains high-quality wine. Without wine there is hardly a meal in an Italian café or at home.
Among the traditional ways of cooking in Italian cuisine are stewing, frying, boiling and baking. This is the way food has been prepared since Roman times and the chefs of classic Italian restaurants are in complete solidarity with their forefathers in this matter.
Italian cuisine is the subject of endless discussions because of its diversity, grandeur and sophistication. Still, there are a few dishes in the world that, when you name them, you can’t think of anything else but Italy. These traditional Italian delicacies include pesto sauce, pizza, pasta, risotto, caprese salad, and tiramisu dessert. Recipes for Italian home cooking today allow housewives around the world to repeat the culinary masterpieces of Italian chefs, because many of the incredibly tasty dishes are very easy to prepare. The main thing is to choose the highest quality products for each dish.
Pesto is an Italian sauce prepared from fresh basil leaves, natural cheese, pine nuts and olive oil. In general, Italy is a country of sauces. There are more than a thousand recipes, and all of them are incredibly delicious and help you experience the taste of dishes that you’re used to in a new way.
There is probably no person in the world who has never tried pizza. Italian recipes at home allow modern housewives to prepare pizza with all sorts of toppings. However, the classic recipe for this dish involves a round flatbread on which tomatoes and cheese are baked in the oven sprinkled with spices. In Italy itself today there are hundreds of pizza recipes. The flatbread for this dish also varies, depending on the region of the country. In the south prefer to bake pizza on a thin dough, while in the north, on the contrary – on a thick one. Despite the general recognition of pizza as a classic Italian dish, scientists agree that the real homeland of this dish is not Italy, but Greece.
The baking talents of Greeks once led to the fact that the inhabitants of this country were the first in the world to put the cheese on the dough and bake it, calling the dish “plakuntos”. However, pizza spread to Europe in the 17th century, when Neapolitan sailors quickly spread it to various countries. One of the most famous varieties of pizza is so called – Neapolitan. Neapolitan pizza in Italy has well-defined quality standards, it is protected by law, which prescribes the size, quality of yeast and flour from which the pizza is baked, type of tomato and other ingredients for cooking. Italian cuisine restaurants, cafes and pizzerias which are able to meet all those standards, can mark their dishes with a special seal of quality that guarantees the use of a classic recipe of Neapolitan pizza in their establishments.
Pasta is a classic Italian dish representing ordinary pasta with various fillings and sauces. There are a huge number of pasta recipes on the menu of Italian cuisine. It’s worth considering a homemade recipe for making the most famous pasta – carbonara.
Carbonara is actually the name of the sauce for pasta. Carbonara sauce can be made from finely chopped slices of bacon, brisket and ham. However, the classic Italian pasta carbonara recipe uses guanchiale – raw pork cheeks. Also Italians can use pancetta – fatty pork brisket, with salt, spices, sage and rosemary – for the carbonara sauce. As a base, most often in carbonara use regular spaghetti.
So, the ingredients of pasta carbonara according to the recipe for Italian cuisine at home can include:
- spaghetti – 250 grams;
- Bacon or ham (or guanchiale, pancetta) – 200 grams;
- olive oil – a tablespoon; – 30 grams;
- garlic – 1 clove;
- eggs – 3 pieces;
- salt and pepper – to taste.
Spaghetti for carbonara is better to cook whole, not breaking in the pot, as is often done. Cooking time for spaghetti is usually indicated on the package with the pasta. Cook them in slightly salted water.
You need to heat olive oil well in a frying pan and fry the finely chopped garlic in it. After the garlic gives aroma to the oil, its pieces should be removed from the oil. Bacon, ham or guanchiale is cut into cubes for the carbonara and fried in the garlic flavored olive oil. In a separate bowl, beat 1 whole egg and the yolks from the other two. With a fork, beat the eggs, adding the pepper to them. Into the homogeneous egg mixture you need to grate Parmesan on a fine grater, then mix everything thoroughly. The resulting sauce should have the consistency of thick sour cream. If it is thicker and more viscous, you can liquefy it by adding some of the liquid in which the spaghetti is boiled.
Drain the spaghetti, strain it in a colander, and then transfer it to a deep container. Add the fried bacon and egg and parmesan sauce. All the ingredients are stirred vigorously so that the sauce evenly covers all the cooked pasta. Pasta carbonara is served hot, freshly cooked.
Another famous and authentic Italian dish is risotto. Risotto is prepared using rice stewed in broth and wine, mushrooms, meat, various vegetables or seafood. As in other dishes of Italian cuisine, risotto recipes have many nuances, they vary from region to region, from restaurant to restaurant.
Caprese salad is a type of traditional appetizer in Italy. It’s not really a salad in the classic sense of the word, but rather the right combination of ingredients. Appetizers in Italian cuisine are usually prepared from a variety of fresh vegetables, seafood or meat. They all have a very unusual and beautiful presentation, which is one of the main components of success. That is why for caprese salad on the plate you need to beautifully arrange sliced cheese, tomatoes, and decorate it all with gorgeous sprigs of basil.
So, to prepare caprese at home you will need:
- medium-sized tomatoes – 2 pieces; – 200 grams;
- fresh basil – 50 grams;
- olive oil – 2 tablespoons;
- pesto sauce – 1 teaspoon;
- salt and pepper to taste.
Mozzarella is taken from the brine and cut into half-centimeter-thick slices. Tomatoes are washed, dried, cut off the stalks and cut in the same way as the cheese. For the beauty of presentation, chefs try to take tomatoes with a similar diameter to the cheese, then the slices in the salad will be the same.
Tomatoes and mozzarella are placed overlapping on a large platter. Everything is drizzled with olive oil, salted and peppered. The dish is decorated with sprigs of basil and each slice of cheese is drizzled with a drop of pesto sauce.
And finally, you should definitely remember the world famous amazing dessert based on coffee and mascarpone cheese – tiramisu. The menu of Italian cuisine is simply unthinkable without this dish, which is not easy to prepare at home, but many still try to do it. To make tiramisu you need 2 eggs, 250 grams of fresh mascarpone, 30 savoyardi cookies, 75 grams of powdered sugar, 200 milliliters of strong coffee, 4 spoons of coffee liqueur and 80 grams of cocoa powder.
Preparing tiramisu includes the following sequential steps:
- Mascarpone cheese should be placed in a large bowl and thoroughly beat until the consistency of thick sour cream or heavy cream.
- Break the eggs, separate the whites and yolks, in one bowl whip the yolks with powdered sugar until white and add this mixture to the mascarpone, beating all together with a whisk. In another bowl, whip the whites of the eggs and then add the whites to the egg yolks and cheese.
- Brew the coffee and cool it, and then mix it with the alcohol. Use a bowl or plate with a low rim, so that you can easily dip the whole cookie in it.
- Dip half of the savoyardi in the coffee-alcohol mixture.
- Place the soaked cookies on the bottom of the tiramisu mould, pour some of the cream on top, then repeat the procedure. On top of the second layer of mascarpone, place the rest of the cookies and carefully pour the cheese on top. The tiramisu mould has to be kept in the fridge for 3-5 hours. Before serving the dessert, sprinkle it with cocoa.
The peculiarities and benefits of Italian cuisine
Italian cuisine is known throughout the world for its taste characteristics and a great variety of recipes. The uniqueness of cookery of this Mediterranean country lies in the constant movement forward, development, introduction of new products, technologies and recipes. Not only chefs, but also ordinary people are engaged in the development of culinary traditions. For example, ice cream was invented, a world-famous dessert that was first cooked by an architect from Italy.
Italian cuisine is very good for the human body. It uses only high quality and fresh products, which are subjected to minimum heat treatment, so they retain most of the useful substances. Even the pasta in Italy is eaten from durum wheat, which is low in fat and calories.
The secret of longevity of Italians in many ways lies in their national cuisine, which residents eat constantly and with pleasure. The average life expectancy of Italian men is 80 years, and of women – as much as 85. Only 10% of Italians are diagnosed with obesity because they practically do not smoke and drink only healthy natural wine in small quantities. Lifestyle, positive thinking and, of course, extraordinary food are the key to the success of active longevity and a life full of positive emotions.