Italian cuisine is one of the most popular food cultures of the world. It is an ever developing type of cuisine, which has been inspired and influenced by many of its culinary counterparts like the Arab, Jewish, Etruscan, ancient Roman, ancient Greek, and Byzantine cuisines. Italian dishes, and their ingredients and condiments, vary greatly according to the region from where they have originated. However, coffee or espresso, cheese, and wine are the three main components of this cuisine. Given below are a few Italian recipes that are popular, delectable, and traditional.
Traditional Italian Meal Course
Italian cuisine is a perfect combination of various cultures that collaborated in Italy during the period of its unification. However, it is believed that the authentic recipes evolved from traditional Mediterranean food culture. Italian food mainly consists of fresh fruits, vegetables and fish, various types of breads, roasted meats, baked pies, stuffed pastries, pastas, various types of cheese, pickled vegetables, and much more. A traditional meal is divided into 7 courses--Antipasto or appetizer, Primo (soup, pasta, risotto), Secondo (main dish, fish, and meat), Contorno (salad or side dish), Dolce (dessert), Caffee (espresso), and Liqueurs (which is also referred to as the coffee killer course). Given below are some details about the same.
The first course is called Antipasto. In English, it is known as the dishes that are served before the pasta. This course consists of hot as well as cold appetizers, which are made using local food products.
This is the prime course of the meal, and is hence known as primo. During this course, many types of pasta, risotto, soup, and such other light dishes are served.
This is actually the main course, which is known as Secondo. It contains all the main Italian dishes made of rice, meat, and fish. Apart from the ones mentioned below, dishes like pancetta, prosciutto di parma, prosciutto cotto, salame, bistecca fiorentina (steak florentine), fritto misto di pesce, frittata di bianchetti, zuppa di pesce (fish soup), riso con piselli or risi e bisi (rice with peas), are also served.
An interesting fact about the Italian cuisine is that salads and side dishes, which are a part of the Contorno course, are always served after the main course.
After all the scrumptious main course dishes come the desserts. This is the fifth course, which is known as Dolce. As the name suggests, Dolce is the course of various mouth-watering desserts like Macedonia fresh fruit salad recipes and anisette cookies.
After the desserts arrives the sixth course which consists of a hot espresso with a layer of froth on top. Italian coffee is very popular all over the world. Apart from those mentioned below, coffee varieties like espresso, ristretto, grolla dell'amicizia (made with coffee and grappa), marocchino, macchiato, corretto, and bicerin (hot chocolate, coffee, and whipped cream) are also popularly savored in Italy.
This is the seventh and final course. It is also known as the coffee killer course and consists of some alcoholic beverages that belong to various regions of Italy. Most of the time, Italian wine and liquor types like Amaro, pale lager, Limoncello or lemon liqueur, Campari, various martinis, Vermouth, and Grappa or prosecco (which is a substitute for French champagne), are served during this course.
Hence, Italian food is not only about pastas and pizzas. There are numerous other recipes apart from the Italian pizza, that have helped increase the richness of this food culture. Given below are some sauce recipes that are required for almost all dishes.
Various regions of Italy that belong to the northern province are: Val d'Aosta, Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige, and Liguria. The northern cuisine is characterized by olive oil, tomato sauce, pastas, lard (butter), corn, cream sauces, rice, and cheese. Some of the most popular food recipes are: basil pesto sauce with trenette (trenette pasts with basil pesto sauce), zuppa di datteri (shellfish soup), ravioli, pandolce Genovese (fruit and nut, sweet Italian pizza), prosciutto, guguluf (ring cake), gnocchi (dumplings), risi e bisi (rice with peas), white truffles, and veal chops with fontina cheese.
Most of the world famous dishes hail from the central provinces of Italy. This region is the motherland of rich oils, popular types of cheese, cured meats, various types of Italian sauces, delicious beef recipes, and seafood delicacies. Regions that belong to central Italy are: Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Marche, Umbria mountainous region, Lazio, Rome, Abruzzi, and Molise.
All these regions share an interesting heritage of mouth-watering foods and different types of cheese like Pecorino, Caciocavallo, Scamorza and Latticing, Pecorino and Casciotta d'Urbino, pecorino cheese, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Lasagna, Cappelletti or egg pasta, Spongata tart, Pesto di Modena, Crema paradiso or creamed bacon, Panini sandwich, Filone bread, Capocollo sausage, coppa sausage, and different types of red wine and white wine, are some popular dishes belonging to this region.
This province is said to be the heart of Italian food culture. Regions belonging to this province are: Campania, Sicily, Sardinia, Puglia, Calabria, and Basilicata. These regions are rich in a variety of vegetables, fruits (especially citrus fruits), durum wheats (pasta), vineyards, and olive groves. Some of the best olive oil of the world is exported from southern Italy. This area is also a rich source of seafood like clams, tuna, sea urchins, and anchovies.
Similar to rest of the country, these regions are also popular for some of the delicious types of cheese like Caciocavallo, Canestrato, Ricotta, Mozzarella, Pecorino, Pecorino Sardo and Fiore Sardo, Scamorza, and many other types of cheese made from goat and sheep milk. It also produces some of the finest types of wine like Marsala, Malvasia, Etna and Lipari, Greco di Tufo, Lacryma Christi, Taurasi, Vesuvio, Castel del Monte, and a few other popular white and red wines.
The Italian cooking culture is a very vast and interesting topic. It is not practically possible to sum it up in one go.