7 Basics of Italian Food Culture
Italian cuisine has earned an international reputation as a family favorite. What is it about the country’s tasteful treats that earn the gourmet specialties such favor of flavor? It is a careful combination of culture, history, fresh ingredients, pairings and items that are so aptly Italy.
Here at 7 Basics of Italian Food Culture:
All season veggies
These are not your veggies that suspiciously make it through every season; in Italy, each season has its own array of earthy nutrition. The vegetables of the season dictate the flavors, recipes, and laughter around the table every few months. In the summertime, Italians revel in beetroot, beans, cucumbers, peas, radishes, tomatoes, aubergines and courgettes. Winter sees heartier vegetables, such as broccoli, artichokes, cabbages, Brussel sprouts, turnips, spinach, and fennel. A few fresh veggies that do manage to make it through all seasons are chicory, carrots, and lettuce.
Some of the most iconic local Italian restaurants serve dishes that come from humble beginnings, dating back to the days when peasants had little money and few ingredients from which to make a nourishing meal at home. Ribollita, for example, is a soup made using leftover vegetable soup or minestrone. Polenta dates all the way back the Roman era, where it won large popularity amongst peasants and continued its favor through the decades and up to today. Torta Sbrisobna, an Italian classic pudding, is made only of flour, eggs, butter, almonds and lemon peel. With freshness on dishes’ sides, less is easily more in Italy.
Gelato and Sorbetto
Oh, for the love of frozen treats! You won’t hear a muttering of ice cream in Italy, as Gelato far surpasses the milky goodness in the Mediterranean. In Northern Italy, Gelato reigns supreme, making a healthier alternative to ice cream with its lower sugar content and its favored slow churning process. In Southern Italy, residents and tourists opt for Sorbetto, a fruity, water-based ice cream alternative.
Italy is traditionally all over the lunch spreads. This leaves breakfast light, swift and typically sweet. Caffe lattes and cappuccinos are served alongside bread rolls, pastries, cookie, muesli, fruit salad, and yogurt. Of course, only a couple of these treats are taken for breakfast- too many sweets would kill the impending lunch special.
Margherita over margaritas
It’s a serious battle between Margherita and margarita, but Italians will happily take the simple pizza and a glass of wine over any salted-rim cocktail. Margherita Pizza is famous for its minimalism: a flat, round base with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and fresh basil. The colors are symbolic of Italy’s national flag: red, with and green. The Naples-born pizza was loved by Queen Margherita of Savory in the 1700s, and today is still named after and enjoyed in her honor.
Pinch of fear
Italian food culture is delightfully threaded with an intrigue of superstitions. It is horribly back luck to spill olive oil, which isn’t so difficult to do when the delectable oil is served alongside every meal. Spilling salt is just as bad, as ancient dwellers believed salt would sterilize the soil. Seating 13 at a table is a no-go due to the Bible’s Last Supper and following similar logic, bread cannot be placed upside down on the table. Who could resist a meal with so many fun rules to follow and superstitions to avoid?
Home-grown accompanies just about every ingredient in Italy. Eating farm to table is not a luxury, but a lifestyle. Markets are common for Italian chefs, restaurant operators and residents who love to cook at home all the same. Local markets offer unbeatable flavors and ease of mind knowing food has been planted and picked with love and love only.
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