A unique site about Italian Cooking - Step-by-step illustrated Italian food recipes
for Tiramisu, and classic Italian recipes for pasta, lasagna, gnocchi, risotto, pizza,
polenta, and articles on history of Italian food.
What is Italian Cooking?
About Italian Food
Many non-Italians identify Italian cooking with a few of its most popular dishes,
like pizza and spaghetti. People often express the opinion that Italian cooking is
all pretty much alike. However, those who travel through Italy notice differences
in eating habits between cities, even those only a few miles apart. Not only does
each region have its own style of Italian Food , but each community and each valley
has a different way of Italian cooking as well.
Perhaps no other country in the world has a cooking style so finely fragmented into different divisions. So why is Risotto typical of Milan, why did Tortellini originate in Bologna, and why is Pizza so popular in Naples? This is so for the same reason that Italy has only one unifying Italian language, yet hundreds of different spoken dialects. Italy is a country of great variety, and Italian cooking is just another aspect of the diversity of Italian culture. This diversity in Italian food stems largely from peasant heritage and geographical differences. Italy is a peninsula separated from the rest of the continent by the highest chain of mountains in Europe. In addition, a long spine of mountains runs north to south down through this narrow country.
Every town has a distinctive way of making sausage, special kinds of cheese and wine,
and a local type of bread. If you ask people, even in the same area, how to make
pasta sauce, they will all have different answers. Variations in the omnipresent
pasta are another example of the multiplicity of Italian recipes: soft egg noodles
in the north, hard-boiled spaghetti in the south, with every conceivable variation
in size and shape.
These geographic features create a myriad of environments with noticeable variations:
fertile valleys, mountains covered with forests, cool foothills, rocky landscapes,
Mediterranean coastlines, and arid plains. A great variety of different climates
have also created innumerable unique geographical and historical areas.
But geographical fragmentation alone will not explain how the same country produced
all of these: the rich, fat, baroque food of Bologna, based on butter, parmigiano,
and meat; the light, tasty, spicy cooking of Naples, mainly based on olive oil, mozzarella,
and seafood; the cuisine of Rome, rich in produce from the surrounding countryside;
and the food of Sicily, full of North African influences.
The explanation is hidden in the past; the multitudes of food styles of Italy mainly
result from its history. Divided for a long time into many duchies, princedoms, kingdoms,
and states—often hostile to one another—political unification in Italy did not occur
until 1861. Many populations in the past three thousand years have occupied Italian
territory, and most of them contributed their own traditions.
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