Italian food is without doubt one of the finest cuisines in the world. The food of Italy is famed not only all over Europe but on pretty much every single continent. Boasting everything from comfort food like pizza and macaroni cheese to exquisite gourmet dishes built around a fine cut of meat or fish. Famed for its simplicity as well as its characteristic flavors, Italian food is something any home cook can learn how to make authentically at home, with the help of some great recipes. Pizza, pasta and lasagna might well be the first recipes to come to mind when considering this cuisine but this is merely scratching the surface of what Italian cuisine has to offer.
Although Italy is a much smaller country than, say, the United States, there are some regional trends and differences you might like to know about. For example, the most commonly used ingredients in the North of the country include fish, rice, corn, potatoes, polenta, cheese, and pork. Head down to the center of the county and you will discover spicy tomato sauces, more varieties of meat and pecorino cheese featuring in a lot of dishes. In the South, tuna, anchovies and sardines are frequently features in meals, as well as capers, ricotta, garlic, eggplant, zucchini, olives and olive oil. Pasta is used all over Italy.
Italian cooks pride themselves on the simplicity of their dishes, as well as choosing the freshest seasonal ingredients available. Basic cooking techniques bring out the beauty of the food’s natural flavor and Italians prefer to buy groceries from market stands, inspecting the goods for optimum freshness, vibrant color and high quality. Even if you do not have a farmer’s market you might like to visit your greengrocer to check what wonderful produce he has to offer that day. An Italian cook knows how to prepare food from scratch, from pasta to bread. Italians learn to appreciate good food while they are young and this passion for great food continues into adulthood. No wonder Italians are so proud of their fabulous cuisine.
AmazingItalianRecipes.com would not be complete with mentioning there is more to this cuisine than just the food itself or the ingredients and cooking methods. Eating at an Italian table will show you everyone is there to savor the food and take their time enjoying the meal. Food in Italy is not simply fuel for the body but one of life’s pleasures. Life in Italy revolves largely around the kitchen and each generation passes on recipes to the next. Whether you are looking for a great risotto recipe, ideas for Italian desserts, pizza variation ideas, or simply curious about this fabulous cuisine, we have plenty to share with you.
Italian Cooking is Easier Than You Think
Italian Food on Both Sides of the Pond
One of the key points to note when learning about Italian food is how this cuisine differs regionally, and how Italian food in Italy can be quite different to what you are served in American-Italian restaurants. Just like how authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex recipes are equally fabulous, you can expect great results from authentic Italian recipes and those with an American twist. Differentiating between traditional Italian and Italian-inspired food is not always easy, but learning the history of the Italian cuisine is fascinating indeed, since it has been around since the 4th century and has developed differently on either side of the Atlantic since being introduced by Italian immigrants just over a century ago.
A lot of people have eaten at American-Italian restaurants but perhaps never experienced a truly authentic dish, just one meant for the Americanized palate, so perhaps you are wondering what the differences are either side of the pond. If you do have Italian blood in your veins or you have married into an Italian family, you will already know some of the classic dishes Italy has to offer. Either way, it is always worth discovering more, and finding out why the Italian passion for using fresh, fine ingredients, keeping recipes simple without using too many ingredients in one dish, and using simple cooking methods will yield the very best results.
Italian Food in Italy
Portions tend to be small in Italy, and that might be one of the first things you notice if you visit. Italian meals are served in courses, so you will usually have some kind of appetizer followed by a pasta dish, a salad, a meat or fish dish, and some dessert. Each course will be small. Frozen pizza, TV dinners, boxed cereals and fast food is much harder to find in Italy, and people do not tend to walk around with food or drinks. An espresso will only cost a dollar in a coffee shop if you drink it standing up (double that if you sit down) and Italians take their coffee extremely seriously.
An Italian grocery store will be smaller than the American equivalent, although there will be plenty of choice when it comes to dried and cured meats, local cheese, dried and fresh pastas and fresh produce. As stated already, Italians prefer to buy locally sourced, seasonal fresh produce, and they will often do this at the market where they can inspect the produce closely. Eating at a good Italian restaurant in the heart of Italy is a fantastic gastronomic experience, second only to making your own authentic Italian fare. Learning how to make classic dishes like risotto, lasagna, pizza and so on is something any keen cook will really enjoy.
The American Side of Italian Food
We all know immigrants introduced this cuisine into the United States, but how many of the dishes we know and love are authentic from Italy and how many were invented because the exact ingredients were not available? Actually most of the Italian-American recipes are based on food from the South of Italy, Campania and Sicily in particular, and these have evolved even more over time, to suit the American palate. The first immigrants arrived around the turn of the 20th century. Unable to find the right kind of Arborio rice or the right produce, they instead discovered they could afford plenty of meat and cheese, meaning they were able to build on and adapt traditional recipes.
Garlic bread is a favorite here but bread is served plain (and unsalted) in Italy. Pepperoni pizza was first mentioned in print in 1919 and you will not find this ingredient on a pizza in the motherland. Mozzarella sticks are not found in Italy either, nor is marinara sauce. Well they do have a marinara sauce but it is made from scratch with fresh shellfish or olives, not the rich tomato sauce we know here. Salads in Italy are dressed with olive oil and vinegar, not ‘Italian dressing’ – another American invention. Parmigiana is only used for eggplant in Italy, not chicken or veal. You can see how this cuisine has evolved very differently here, but both styles offer some incredible dishes. We hope you enjoy browsing AmazingItalianRecipes.com and find the perfect recipes to prepare for your family.
Buon Appetito, and thanks for visiting,
Christine and Everyone here at Amazing Italian Recipes
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