The cuisine of the boot-shaped country on the Adriatic and the Mediterranean is known and loved far beyond the borders, even across the continents – but there is still a lot to discover! Food is a timeless symbol of Italian culture. Italian cuisine and Italian food are part of their culture and often an integral part of the history of every family.
In recent years, the original cuisine of Italy has become one of the most popular and desired cuisines around the world. Many countries have opened numerous restaurants and cafes, cozy trattorias with a homely atmosphere, pizzerias and other bars offering original Italian dishes and drinks.
Diverse Italian cuisine means the originality and individual character of the dishes, the preparation of which requires the use of fresh ingredients such as vegetables, fruit and olive oil. All this in combination with a reasonable amount of wine contributes to maintaining good health, because the basis of Italian nutrition is only healthy food. It is precisely thanks to a healthy diet, poor in fast food, that Italians are much less overweight than other European nations. Moreover, Italians do not like carbonated drinks and they are not willing to ignore eating fruits or vegetables, as happens in American cuisine, for example.
What is the secret of Italian dishes?
Traditional Italian cuisine is a real treasure and every treat is a kind of ritual aimed at communicating with friends and family. Italian national dishes are considered one of the healthiest and lightest dishes, so if we start a trip to this beautiful country, we don’t have to worry about excess kilograms. Italian dishes are always freshly served in every restaurant, because Italians consider it bad manners to prepare dishes from frozen fish or to serve stale bread.
Of course we start with the aperitivo – in Italy this is more than just an appetizing drink before a meal. Italians love life, and that is exactly what is celebrated with the aperitivo. It’s part of the Italian lifestyle to meet up in the squares in front of the bars after a day’s work and enjoy refreshing, light drinks like wine or Campari. In addition, small appetizers are eaten and the end of the day and dinner are heralded with relaxed conversations in the sunset.
The Italian national dish is the noodle, which is indispensable in any kitchen. Italians usually eat pasta as “primo piatto”, as the first course before the main course. Linguine or Farfalle are well known, but do you also know Strozzapreti or Lumaconi? There are a total of several hundred types of pasta! A wonderful pasta dish, for example, is “pasta alla norma”. The Sicilian recipe is prepared with macaroni, aubergines and feta cheese, together with sun-ripened tomatoes and plenty of basil. The colors of the ingredients (white, red, green, black) are said to reflect the colors of the Italian flag, and the black of the aubergine and the white of the ricotta are symbolic of the lava and snow-covered slopes of the Etna volcano.
Rolled and shaped
Malfatti and gnocchi are the Italian answer to dumplings and gnocchi. Even if Malfatti literally translated from Italian means “failed”, they taste delicious. They are ricotta and spinach dumplings with parmesan and nutmeg, which are best lovingly hand-rolled like the Italian grandmother used to make them. Freshly lifted from the boiling salt water and tossed in sage butter, they are enjoyed with the whole family.
Italian table culture
Did you know that Italians only have a sparse breakfast, but that lunch and dinner are celebrated extensively? Conviviality and enjoyment are inseparable in Italy. A cozy “cena” (dinner) often lasts over two hours! It often consists of four courses, from antipasti to dolce (dessert). Incidentally, in Italy, desserts can be really sweet and luscious, such as the “Zuppa inglese”. Here biscuit meets liqueur, vanilla cream, candied fruit and chocolate. In addition, freshly brewed espresso and grappa are drunk as a digestivo. Also typical at the Italian dining table: white bread, which is served with every meal, and beautiful cloth napkins!
Specialties from Italy
When you think of Italian gourmet products, you want to get in the car right away and start a tour of bella Italia! In the northeast lies the Prosecco region – the origin of the popular sparkling wine. Further east, in the Po Valley, Parmesan is made and aged for at least 9 months. Olive cultivation begins further south in Liguria, extending into the toe of the boot in Calabria. The variety of varieties is great, as is the range of pleasures: have you ever tried olives with garlic, thyme or rosemary? In Sicilian style, lemon, mint and chili are even added to the olives before they are served! Back in central Italy, of course, Neapolitan salami should not be missing in the gourmet package. It is very spicy and even slightly hot – perfect on the antipasti plate.