Guide To Italian Cuisine
Italian cuisine has become a popular food that is rich with variety and flavors. There are many regions of Italy and each differs with type of food. Tomato sauces and pesto can be eaten over pasta. Common herbs include basil and fennel. Breads are baked, and can be flavored with herbs. Olives grow well in parts of Italy, and olive oil is used for a majority of the cooking. Probably the most popular item is pizza, with its many varieties, people everywhere enjoy it.
Italian cuisine dates back thousands of years. Early Italian food was fish and game meats. The Roman Empire then imported foods from other countries. The diet of the Italians grew to using vegetables, cheeses, and wine. Many foods that we think of as Italian today were imported. In the Middle Ages, other countries were conquering parts of Italy and bringing foods with them. For instance, during the 8th century, an Arabian food was a dried noodle that became what we know as pasta. In the 16th century, the practice of working tomatoes into bread dough began, or, the first pizzas. In the 19th century, products were exported, and with the immigration of Italians to other countries, many other people began to enjoy the pasta and pastries that had developed within Italy for centuries.
The variety of Italian food is as diverse as each region. There are twenty regions of Italy; each has its own preparation:
1. The Aosta Valley is a mountainous region located in the northwest corner. With cattle grazing on the hills, the Aosta Valley uses a lot of cheese. Their close proximity to France also gives them a variety of wines.
2. The Piedmont region is known for its red wine and truffles. People here also eat salads with vegetables. Pasta is slender noodles or ravioli. Hazelnuts are also indigenous to this region.
3. The Liguria region resembles a Mediterranean diet. Olive oil, pesto, and dumplings are common. People also eat seafood due to the proximity of the Mediterranean Sea.
4. Lombardy is found in the central north portion of Italy. Agriculture abounds here, along with rice paddies. Dishes such as risotto are common, and typical pasta is stuffed ravioli.
5. The Veneto region encompasses the city of Venice. Seafood is fundamental; rice is more common than pasta, so dishes include risotto and polenta.
6.The Trentino-Alto Adige region shares Austrian influences. Pork is common as well as other foods such as dark breads, cheese, and wine. Apples are also found in this region and are used in desserts.
7. The Friuli-Venezia Giulia region is a secluded area in the northeast. It is known for its prosciutto, as well as white wines. The people of this region also eat seafood from the Adriatic Sea.
8. The region of Emilia-Romagna holds the city of Bologna. Rich foods are found here with cheese-filled pastas covered in a meat sauce. Flatbreads and focaccia are also customary.
9. Western Tuscany is known for its bread. Soups are often eaten, and the Mediterranean Sea provides seafood. Olive oil and Chianti wine are found here as well.
10. The Umbria region is a landlocked area. Meats are often preserved. Truffles, mushrooms, and chestnuts are widespread and are included in many foods.
11. The Marches region has a variety of cuisine that fits land and sea. Seafood and game meats are both part of the diet. Marches is known for its large olives, which are sometimes served stuffed with meat or cheese.
12. Latium houses the city of Rome. The diet here includes items such as pork and veal. Bruschetta is common, along with spaghetti or fettuccine.
13. Abruzzi is a mountainous region by the Adriatic Sea. Popular items are seafood and lamb for meat, minestrone soup, and wheat based pasta.
14.Molise is sparsely populated. Many people of this region enjoy salami; vegetables; and pastas, such as lasagna and tagliatelle.
15. Campania houses the city of Naples and is known for their pizza. They also tend to eat many vegetables and seafood.
16. The Apulia region is another area that borders the Adriatic Sea. Sea salt is a common seasoning. Olives are also found here, and typical pastas are spaghetti and lasagna served with cheese.
17. The Basilicata region serves tube pasta and is also known for their cheeses. Soups with beans are common, as well as risotto, and red wine.
18. The Calabria region in the south produces olive oil and uses it in cooking and preserving. Citrus fruits and figs are grown here. Chili spice is frequently added to dishes for flavor.
19. Sicily historically has had an Arab influence. Sugar was imported here and sweets are common. Citrus fruits, figs, seafood, and vegetables are widespread.
20. Sardinia is an island to the west of the mainland. It holds a Spanish influence and is a large producer of organic goods. Pasta with sheep’s cheese, goat milk and wine are eaten here.
With so many different types of food found in Italy, it is hard to narrow down a few items to serve as dishes typical of Italian cuisine. Many recipes exist and are fun to try, such as pastas, pesto, or marinara. Many people enjoy Italian cuisine because of the flavors, and its variety has something for everyone.