are many regional variations of cooking throughout
Italy, but in general grain foods such as
pasta, bread, rice, and polenta are mixed
in a variety of interesting ways with vegetables,
beans, fish, poultry, nuts, cheeses and meat.
ancient times, grains such as wheat have been
a staple food throughout Italy. Indeed, wheat
is one of the most revered foods in Italian
cookery. It's used to make a variety of interesting
breads including ciabatta, focaccia and crusty
whole grain bread. Pasta,
which is made from wheat and comes in dozens
of different shapes, has also been a highly-prized
food for centuries.
popular grain foods include rice
such as arborio (which is a short-grain variety
of rice popularly used in risottos) and cornmeal
which is used to make polenta.
an old saying that good cooking begins in
the market, and never is this more true than
with authentic Italian cuisine which relies
heavily on fresh produce.
most commonly used vegetables include tomatoes,
garlic, onions, bell peppers (capsicum), eggplants
(aubergine), cabbage, zucchini (courgettes),
fennel, mushrooms, celery, asparagus, broccoli,
spinach, cauliflower and lettuce.
vegetables are traditionally chopped and added
to bakes, pasta dishes, risottos and pizza
or turned into salads, soups, antipasti
(appetizers) and side dishes.
both fresh and dried, are eaten as snacks
and desserts. Popular types of fruit include
grapes, berries, citrus fruit such as oranges
and lemons, figs, pears, cherries, apples
and Olive oil
Italy shares a similar Mediterranean climate
to Greece, Provence and Spain. This warm,
sunny climate makes it ideal for olive growing.
olives are used in cooking, but the most
revered part of the olive is the nectar it
produces. The first cold pressing of the best
olives produces extra
virgin olive oil. This golden-green, richly
flavored oil is used in hot dishes, marinades,
salad dressings or drizzled on fresh crusty
shellfish, poultry and eggs
coastline of Italy is dotted with fishing
villages, and fish and shellfish are a traditional
staple in most parts of the country.
varieties of fish include tuna,
sardines, swordfish, cod, salmon, shrimp,
crab, squid, clams and mussels. This fish
and shellfish is traditionally added to stews,
pasta dishes, bakes, risottos and pizzas,
or simply served grilled, baked or lightly
fried in olive oil with side dishes.
especially chicken, is also eaten regularly.
Eggs, which are a common ingredient in many
Italian dishes such as frittata, are traditionally
eaten regularly, but in modest amounts.
has never featured prominently in Cucina
Poverathe cuisine of poorer southern
Italy. Instead it has typically been eaten
on festive occasions or used in small amounts
as a flavor and texture enhancer. In the northern
parts of Italy meat has traditionally been
eaten more frequently, but still in moderation.
(beans, peas and lentils) are a highly popular
food throughout Italy. In the Tuscany region,
for example, beans are so highly regarded
that Tuscans are fondly known as the "bean
eaters." Commonly eaten beans include
beans. Green peas and green beans are
also regularly used in Italian cookery, as
are lentils, which are added to soups and
such as pine nuts, walnuts and almonds are
used in cooking or eaten as snacks. One of
Italy's most famous sauces, pestowhich
originates from the seaport of Genoa is
a mixture of pine nuts, garlic, fresh basil,
Parmesan cheese and olive oil. (There are
also other variations of pesto such as Sun-dried
tomato and walnut pesto.)
is traditionally eaten regularly, but in moderation,
throughout Italy. Some of the most popular
types of cheese include Parmesan (the most
highly regarded type being Parmigiano Reggiano),
mozzarella (classically made from the milk
of a water buffalo, but available in a cow's
milk variety), Romano, gorgonzola and ricotta.
is used in bakes or to top pizza, sprinkled
over pasta dishes, mixed through risottos,
tossed in salads or eaten with fruit as a
the flavor of fresh ingredients shine through
is a fundamental part of Italian cookery,
so elaborate spices don't feature prominently.
Instead fresh or dried herbs such as basil,
flat-leaf parsley, rosemary and oregano
are used simply to highlight the flavors of
the food. Other important seasonings include
salt, freshly cracked pepper, vinegar (such
vinegar) and foods that impart a rich
flavor such as anchovies, garlic, capers,
olives and sun-dried
juice and wine are also common flavor enhancers,
and fruity extra-virgin olive oil adds flavor
and texture when a little is stirred through
dishes likes stews, soups or pasta sauces
at the end of cooking.
has been the most popular alcoholic beverage
since ancient times. It's customary in Italy
to consume wine with meals, and in moderation.
Strong coffee is the most popular non-alcoholic
elaborate desserts have been reserved for
special occasions. Fresh and dried fruit,
or a little cheese, are the typical dessert.