How many of you like the Italian cuisine? Hands up!
How many of you eat pizza or Spaghetti Bolognese, or any other Italian recipe, regularly?
We know you too love Italian food, at least in its simplest forms. And there are so many passionates around the globe that come to Italy to eat their favorite dishes the local way.
Italian Cuisine: simplicity!
Italian food not a simple subject, as it might appears at first sight, since there are so many Italian dishes.
People find some of them are very basic, while many others extremely complicated.
Yet, the common idea of Italian food is based upon tasteful tomato sauces, and everything wheat flour produces, including desserts with or without cream.
You can easily taste a typical Italian recipe.
It just takes few minutes: get some spaghetti, get some extra-virgin olive oil, get some garlic, a tomato or a slice of bacon.
From the cheesy risottos to the “cotoletta milanese” (crisp fried steak), the Italian cuisine is a compendium of crowd-pleasing comfort food.
But it’s not all that simple.
All around the world, many people are now interested into Italian specialties, some of them are real experts.
And this is the greatest thing: Italian food has become for everybody.
Its extreme simplicity is the main feature of the Italian cooking, with many dishes consisting of only 4 up to 8 ingredients.
Italian food rely very much on the quality of ingredients rather than the complexity of preparation.
Chefs often create dishes and recipes from their grandmothers tradition, and that is why many recipes are suitable for home cooking.
Many dishes that were once known only in regions of origin, have spread across the nation and the world. Sicilian cuisine
Cheese and wine are an important part of the Italian cuisine, with so many variations and a specific legal protection, Denomination of Controlled Origin (DOC).
Even coffee, especially “espresso”, has become important in Italian cuisine.
Main meals in Italy
In the main meals Italian cuisine are:
Prima colazione: Italian Breakfast
Breakfast is usually sweet, with a cappuccino, or a tea, or hot or cold milk, together with baked goods like cookies, or a slice of bread with jam or hazelnut cream.
Coffee predominates with cappuccino variants, milk and coffee, or the famous espresso.
In some special occasions like on Sundays or public holidays, Italians may prefer pastries for breakfast.
Pranzo: Italian Lunch
Traditionally, lunch is the most important meal of the day.
When it’s complete, it consists of three or four courses;
An appetizer, usually consisting of toast, cold cuts, cheese, vegetables.
A first course usually a plate of pasta or rice or soup.
A main course of meat or fish or cheese or ham accompanied by a side dish of vegetables.
Sweet or fruit to close.
Today, Italians are not used anymore to eat so much: this complete meal is typical of public holidays. For all the other days a single dish with a vegetable side is the choice.
Cena: Italian Dinner
Once, dinner scheme mirrored the lunch one, with more or less the same courses.
Today, unlike the lunch, dinner still remains a meal people usually consume with company, within the family or among friends.
Dinner specialties vary from region to region, depending upon the local traditions and affluence.
They are important to appease the hunger of mid-morning and afternoon, away from lunch and dinner.
They are usually light and fruit compounds, bread and jam and even ice cream in Summer.
The Italian cuisine abroad: are you sure it’s Italian?
It is one of the cuisines that many restaurants in most nations in the world offer.
Yet, often Italians believe that these restaurants abroad do not know how to prepare the true Italian specialties.
Mainly, for two reasons: on the one hand, it is difficult to find high quality typical Mediterranean products. Or it is very expensive to import them in those countries where they have to.
On the other hand, paradoxically, it’s its simplicity.
Often abroad (especially in Anglo-Saxon countries), locals expect a good dish be rich in ingredients, and cannot resist the temptation to add ingredients.
In this way, making a more complex dish greatly satisfies them.
Or, restaurants don’t want to give the impression to prepare carelessly recipes in the eyes of customers.
Moreover, the distinction between a whole Italian “first” course and “second” plate does not help.
Especially in those countries where the very rooted habit is to eat a single dish per meal.
Too simple! We don’t want it!
As a consequence, people avoid the authentic and simple pasta and tomato sauce, for instance, or present it in “richer way,” adding ingredients.
Another example: think of the “Margherita” pizza.
People rarely buy it when compared with other more tempting pizzas on the menu, unless you add some further ingredients, even a simple one.
It’s the case of the sauces (eg. the garlic sauce) that restaurants offer with the pizza: this practice is completely absent in the Italian cuisine.
But many Countries consider it as a must.
Often, chefs try to send you the message that garlic is a typical Italian cuisine ingredient (think of garlic creams, garlic bread, etc.).
But no Italian region makes such an intense use of it as seemingly emerges from Italian restaurants abroad.
Yet, clearly, it matches local tastes than a simpler dish: and, yes, business is still business!
Moreover, meat and vegetables are all equally important ingredients to combined with no problem. It’s another feature of the Italian culture and cuisine.
We mean: either meat or vegetables can indifferently be at the basis of the main dish.
Instead, many Countries consider meat as the most important meal component, and therefore they consider a meatless meal as poor.
For this reason, it is more difficult to find pasta recipes without meat; even at the cost of adding chicken meat: something nearly impossible to find as a first course in Italy.
What was your first impression of the Italian kitchen? What is your favorite dish? In which part of Italy you would like to taste the typical Italian specialties?
Feel free to share with us your impressions.