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Food and Wine of Italy



The best way to experience one country is by its foods. Hence, when you are visiting Italy you may not miss on its wide food and wine options.

Not only for their rich culture and traditions, Italians are also recognized for their gastronomic spread. Italian cuisine is popular worldwide for its diversity, taste as well as flavor. Italians can boast about having different tasting foods at different region. Italians are also regarded as great cooks and Italian chefs are highly sought after world wide.

In most of the leading restaurant chains the chefs are happen to be Italians simply because they have a natural bending for cooking delicious gourmet foods. The long history and rich traditions of Italy have helped developing its wide range of cuisine and hence, the food culture is very rich in Italy. Moreover, there are wide choices of wine also available in the country to pair with the food items.

Therefore, when you are traveling to Italy it would be wise to have a firsthand knowledge of food and wine of Italy to avoid missing out on its extensive gourmet delight. Here is therefore a complete guidebook on food and wine in Italy.

Italian cuisines can be divided by regions and each of them varies distinctly from the other in terms of use of ingredient, flavor and taste.

Northern Italian cuisines
The climate, topography as well as the vegetation have played very crucial role in developing the entire northern Italian cuisine, which vary distinctively from their southern cousins. Since, northern part of Italy has colder climate you will find more use of butter, cream and cheese in north Italian dishes. Also, there is a difference in the type of pasta being used in preparing north Italian dishes. In the northern areas, polenta is the famous substitute for pasta. The most popular rice dish is Risotto although it has its origin in the west. Stuffed pasta is also very popular in the north.

The lush countryside of northern Italy has also made it an excellent place for cattle breeding and therefore there is an endless supply of milk, cheese, meat and the like. Beef, veal and pork are the most commonly consumed meat in the region.

The northern cuisines differ markedly from the south in their use of tomato. They use much less tomato in dishes; rather, they use broth, flavored with many herbs in cooking. Rice is also widely consumed and locals like to stuff their roasts during the winter.

The north Italian cuisines also make wide use of fishes and seafood, like-mussels and clams.

Southern Italian cuisines
The southern Italian cuisines are known for their typical use of tomato. A wide variety of pasts and pizzas are mentioned in the main menu of southern Italian cuisines. Almost all the dishes will either be cooked in tomato sauce or use fresh tomato as an ingredient. Apart from tomato, ingredients like- pepper, garlic, olives, artichokes and wide variety of cheeses are also widely in use in south Italian dishes. Mozarella is the most commonly used cheese in southern Italian cuisines.

There is also extensive use of vegetables, meat, fish and seafood in south Italian dishes. Lamb is the popular choice for meat.

What are the popular Italian dishes?
The options with Italian food are very wide. We have therefore compiled a list of popular Italian items that are available in most of the Italian restaurants.

Appetizers
  • Bruschetta- A simple appetizer dish. Toasted bread is rubbed with garlic and olive oil. Tomato can also be used optionally.
  • Filetti di baccala’- Cod fillets deep fried in olive oil.
  • Fiori di zucca fritti- Courgette flowers are stuffed with mozzarella cheese and anchovies and then deep fried.
  • Suppli’- Mozzarella cheese stuffed fried rice croquettes.
  • Antipasto misto- This antipasti may contain many ingredients- olives, anchovies, cured meats, seafood, grilled or green vegetables.

Pastas
  • Spaghetti Cacio E Pepe- It is a very simple and basic spaghetti dish. The boiled spaghetti is dressed with plenty of Roma pecorino cheese and lots of pepper.
  • Spaghetti Alla Carbonara- Cooked spaghetti is dressed with egg yolk, fried beacon and parmigiano.
  • Spaghetti Aglio, Olio, Peperoncino - A sauce of olive oil, chopped garlic, parsley and chili is prepared and then spread over cooked spaghetti.
  • Bucatini alla Amatriciana- Bucatini, is a special tube like pasta. In the traditional Bucatini alla Amatriciana dish the pasta is topped with a sauce made of hog jowls or bacon, white wine, tomatoes and spicy peppers and served with aged pecorino.
  • Gnocchi alla Romana- Semolina dumplings are sliced and then served with butter and grated cheese.
  • Cannelloni- A stuffing of ricotta and spinach or meat filling is prepared and put in egg pasta sheets, topped with tomato sauce and then baked.
  • Penne All’arrabbiata- Short pasta cooked in spicy tomato sauce.
  • Rigatoni Con La Pajata- Square pastas cooked in the sauce of milk with calf intestine, tomatoes, salt pork, spices and garlic. Pecorino cheese is then added to the dish.
  • Abbacchio- Abbacchio is a popular Roman dish in which milk-fed lamb meat is cooked with lemon egg sauce. This dish is specially prepared for the Eater.
  • Saltimbocca Alla Romana- Veal meat, Parma ham and sage is cooked on skewer.
  • Pollo Alla Romana- Chicken dish, in which the meat is cooked with green peppers, tomato and garlic.
  • Involtini- Beef rolls are prepared with celery and carrots and then cooked in tomato and wine sauce.

The Italian cuisine can also boast about wide range of salads. There are both vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian salads available as side dishes. Some of the popular salad dishes are-

  • Carciofi Alla Romana
  • Carciofi Alla Giudia
  • Puntarelle
  • Fave Al Guanciale
  • Fava Beans with Pecorino
  • Fagioli Con Le Cotiche
  • Pomodori Ripieni

Italian Dessert
As a convention Italians too end their meal with a dessert. Italian desserts are sumptuous as well as delicious. Following is a list of popular Italian desserts.
  • Italian trifle
  • Apple and Grana Padano tartlets
  • Classic Italian affogato
  • Peach zabaglione
  • Torta di Mele
  • Tiramisù
  • Cantuccini

Wine
The list of food and wine of Italy will be incomplete without mentioning the wide variety of wine that is available in the country. Italy can be the paradise for wine lovers. There are wines available of various flavors and qualities.

Italy is one of the oldest wine regions. Wine, in Italy, isn’t only consumed as refined drink but also taken during the meal.

There are three wine growing regions there in Italy, they namely are- Piedmont (Barolo), Venetia (Amarone, Pinot Grigio, etc.), and Tuscany (Chianti, Brunello). Italian wine can be broadly categorized as:

Rosso or Red- Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Montepulciano, Barbera, Corvina, Nero d'Avola, Dolcetto, Negroamaro, Aglianico, Sagrantino, Malvasia Nera, etc.

Bianco or White- Trebbiano, Moscato, Nuragus, Pinot Grigio, Tocai Friuliano, Ribolla Gialla, Arneis, Malvasia Bianca, Pigato, Garganega, etc.

All these varieties of wines are highly praised amongst the wine lovers worldwide.

Italians and coffee
Italians are also known for their love for coffee. A wide variety of coffees are available in Italy. The roadside cafes are particularly popular for serving excellent coffee drinks. Following is the list of the main varieties of coffee that is available in Italy, Espresso – Finely grounded coffee beans are mixed with boiling water in high pressure to prepare Espresso.

  • Caffè macchiato- The coffee is prepared and then it is topped with foaming milk.
  • Caffè ristretto- Strong coffee with more coffee and less water.
  • Cappuccino- Coffee is mixed with frothy milk.
  • Caffe latte- More milk is added to the coffee to give it the distinct taste.
  • Latte macchiato- Mostly milk and less coffee. In fact, in Latte macchiato only a little coffee is added to a glass full of milk.

Italian dishes are distinctly known for generous usage of tomato, be it in sauce form or chopped; olives, spices, especially oregano; and olive oil. Olive oil happens to be healthy and good for heart, which make Italian foods particularly healthy. As the world has become more integrated Italian foods have found acceptance worldwide. Pizzas, pastas, spaghettis are widely popular with people of all age groups. Italians can also demand the credit for popularizing coffee as a drink. Their roadside cafes serve some of the best coffee drinks in the world.

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