Introduction to Italian Cuisine
Italian cuisine is deeply influenced by its geographic position especially the plentiful supply of fresh seafood from the Mediterranean Sea. While you can sample Italian cuisine all over the world nowadays, it is worthwhile understanding what makes Italian food so popular the world over. If you are not familiar with the dishes in Italian cuisine, this article will help you get acquainted with some of the more popular dishes.
The Most Common Ingredients Found in Italian Cooking
Italian cuisine prides itself on simple recipes, prepared with passion and using the freshest ingredients. Among the most common items in the preparation of Italian food are:
- Vegetables (eggplants, tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, artichokes and peppers).
- Pasta, made from wheat flour.
- Cheese (mascarpone, gorgonzola, mozzarella and parmesan).
- Spices – (rosemary, capers, garlic and basil).
- Olive oil and olives.
- Seafood, especially fish and shellfish.
- Lean pork, beef and peperoni.
- Lentils and beans.
- Italian Wine like Chianti and Grappa.
Popular Italian Dishes
One of the most common dishes that you can find anywhere in the world is pizza. This is arguably the most famous contribution of Italian food to world food culture. Pizza is a flan baked with cheese and tomato sauce with your selection of toppings. Among the more classical versions of pizza include Pizza Marguerite, with mozzarella, tomato and oregano as toppings, Four Cheese Pizza, Four Season Pizza, Diablo and Capriccioso.
Pizza has been eaten in Italy for centuries. No one can be sure how this dish came about but it was and still is a simple everyday meal in the rural parts of Italy. Pizza really became famous worldwide when an Italian immigrant brought the dish and introduced to the Americans. From there, the Americans adopted it as it were their own and made it a staple diet for American people. Nowadays, pizza is one of the most consumed meals in America and possibly the world as well.
Another item that truly characterized Italian cuisine is pasta and its variants such as spaghetti, cannelloni, linguine and penne. Pasta is a form of noodles and is traditionally served with gravy or sauce. The sauce is usually made from either tomato or cream. Some of the more popular varieties of pasta include, Spaghetti Napoli, a tomato based meal, Spaghetti Bolognese – tomato and minced beef, Penne Aglio Olio – pasta stir fried in olive oil and Linguine Carbonara – a cream based version.
Although it is a Mediterranean country, Italian cuisine does use rice from time to time. One of the main rice dishes in Italian cuisine is Risotto. Italian risotto is basically rice boiled until it is soft and becomes like a stew. Risotto can be cooked with a variety of ingredients such as poultry, beef, seafood, vegetables, cheese and mushrooms. There are no distinct recipes for risotto. Basically you can use whatever that is fresh and seasonal. The only constant item in the dish is short grain rice.
These three main dishes of Italian cuisine are found anywhere in the world but the best ones are definitely the one made in Italy. If you have a chance to sample the Italian cuisine in Napoli or Milan, you may find it very different to what you are accustomed to back home.