When we think of Italian cuisine, the first thought that comes to mind is Pizza. Yes, Italian Pizza is quite renowned. But there are other culinary delicacies from Italy that also linger on our palates. Italian cooking also changes with the regions of Italy. For example, the Pizza crust in Rome is thin, while in the Neapolitan and Sicilian regions, it is thick.
In Italy, each province has its own style of cooking based on the region's crops. In Northern Italy, the food is prepared with lots of butter, cream, risotto, fresh egg pasta, and parmigiano cheese. Southern Italian cuisine makes use of mozzarella cheese, olive oil, dried pasta, and tomatoes.
In Rome, they prefer to use a lot of pecorino or sheep milk cheese, while in Tuscany they prefer white beans, meat, and unsalted bread. North Italy is well-known for stuffed pastas like lasagna and tortellini, while Naples is known for pizza and mozzarella. In Calabria, they prefer using a lot of hot pepper and capsicum. Sicily is famous for its gelato or ice cream, and their cuisine also uses lemon, pistachio, and fish. Sardinia is famous for its lamb dishes.
A traditional Italian meal consists of the following courses:
- Anti-Pasto: This consists of hot and cold appetizers.
- Primo: This has dishes like pasta, risotto, or even soup. This is the first course.
- Secondo: This contains the main dish of fish or meat.
- Contorno: This is the side dish of salad or vegetables. A traditional Italian menu will feature a salad after the main course.
- Dolce: This is the dessert course.
- Caffee: Here you will be served a cup of espresso.
- Liqueurs: This course is also referred to as the "coffee killer" course where you will be served grappa or amaro.
Italian cooking is based on wheat products such as bread and pasta. The food is prepared in such a way that their natural taste is preserved. This makes the food light and healthy. Italian cuisine, therefore, does not need a lot of attention and can be made fast.
Foods such as pastas and rice are cooked in hot water. If vegetables have to be fried, they are sautéed in oil or fat. Sometimes, food is browned in fat and then cooked in flavored liquids like broth or wine. Italian cooking also uses a lot of aromatic vegetables and seasonings; the most well-known being oregano. Food is also grilled over a charcoal fire.
Food in Italy is, thus, cooked depending on the regional foods available and the prevalent customs of cooking. The cuisine depends on the people from region to region.