Every single Country in the world has a culinary tradition, regardless of being popular or unknown, as food represents a source of life, gives us energy and is part of the cultural heritage of a population.
In Italy it is a way bigger deal: food means conviviality, sharing, passion, love. A bridge that connects people. A way to tell someone you love them.
On top of that Italy is characterized by its variety of ingredients, for instance what you eat from North to South is completely different. But even in the same Region there might be a chance where food might be different from city to city.
This “food philosophy” is inspired by the eating habits that many populations that live next to the Mediterranean Sea have, mostly Italy, Greece and Spain, along with some Northern Africans and Middle-Eastern Countries.
This diet includes a moderate consumption of olive oil, legumes, cereals, fresh fruit and seasonal vegetables, but also a fair amount of fish and meat, with dairy products like cheese and yogurt, wine covers a small yet relevant role in it, making it the perfect diet for nearly everybody.Studies over the years have proven that a Mediterranean diet lowers the risk of heart disease and early death, along with cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
In 2010 UNESCO listed the Mediterranean diet as part of the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. As it isn’t only a diet but is a set of skills made by knowledge, rituals, symbols and traditions regarding crops, harvesting, fishing, farming, conservation, food processing and cooking techniques.
Part of its philosophy is about sharing food, hence caring about people you share it with.
The art of pizza
Undoubtedly Italian most iconic dish in the world, you probably have to go to Mars to find someone who doesn’t know it (and we’re not 100% sure about it). Pizza can be made with the biggest variety of ingredients you can think of, but the original one is characterized by the Italian flag colors: red (tomato), white (mozzarella), green (basil).
The modern pizza was invented by a chef called Raffaele Esposito, working at the Court of the Royal Palace of Capodimonte, during the visit of Queen Margherita (that gives the name after her).
Pizza has been so iconic in the development and spreading of Italian culture in foreign Countries that in 2017 the “art of making pizza” has become for UNESCO part of its list of intangible cultural heritage, as it is a father-to-son tradition that needs to be kept like a National treasure.
The wonder of Tiramisu
An Italian miracle of craftsmanship, skills and technique, that mixes together as one all the things Italians love the most: coffee, flavored cocoa powder and Mascarpone cheese. Even though most Italians would argue that the most important ingredient of Tiramisù is love.
The origin of the name lies in the dialect expression “tireme sù”, meaning “cheer me up” as the original recipe included high calories ingredients such as sugar, eggs, cocoa, coffee and mascarpone cheese.
People used to believe it has aphrodisiac features.
In Italy there is still ongoing debate about its origins, as two different regions are claiming it, both Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia say that Tiramisù is rooted in their Pastry tradition since 1950 (at least).
Despite the origin, it is nowadays such an international treasure that can be found nearly everywhere all over the world, even in non-Italian restaurants. Often it comes with variations that can switch coffee with beer (the so-called Birramisù), strawberry sauce or alcohol like Marsala, which is very popular in Southern Italy.
Did you just say Gelato?
No, it’s not an ice-cream, it’s a gelato. The best companion of all Italians during the hottest summer nights (but let’s be honest, it’s good in winter too!).
Gelato represents Italian territory, local products and seasonal fruits by all means, depending to which region you go to you might find different flavors: in Sicily you’re very likely to find a pistachio flavored gelato, in Lazio the most popular is the dark chocolate one and in Piedmont probably is going to be a hazelnut flavored gelato.
It is usually served as a dessert, either with a slice of cake or as a stand alone course, but it’s also often taken just to get something to eat after a meal, like a take-away meal.
Lasagna equals love
Italians are so obsessed with carbs… And there’s nothing wrong about it. Especially because lasagna does put a smile on your face whenever you taste it. Originally from Emilia-Romagna, but spread all over the territory, the ancient recipe includes a wide, flat pasta dough with ragù (a typical tomato sauce with peas, onion, carrots, meat, tomato paste), parmesan/mozzarella cheese (accordingly to the Region) and béchamel sauce.
Lasagna is that kind of dish that your grandmother makes for Christmas or whenever she knows there’s going to be the entire family sitting at the same table, it is in fact the dish that represents the most the conviviality and festivity traditions in Italy.
It is also subject to variations, like the pumpkin lasagna and the pistachio pesto one, as delicious as the original lasagna and definitely the perfect chance to taste something different.