Italian cuisine is known the world over. Italian cookery and recipes vary from region to region of the wonderful country; mostly Italian food is very healthy and nutritious, using natural ingredients in season. Most traditional Italian dishes as we know today, are on the whole derived from simple peasant cookery, for example the Pizza, which could be found a couple of centuries ago on the streets of Naples being sold by street vendors to those that had no cooking facilities of their own at home.
Although there are essential ingredients that every Italian kitchen should have, basil, garlic and olive oil, the most important ingredient is creativity.
Italians take pride and pleasure in their Italian food, and cooking and eating habits can vary from different areas of the country, even from village to village. Each place has their own unique specialities and ingredients, and even the traditional Italian dishes that are so popular all over Italy are cooked in different ways depending which region you go to. For example, if you eat a lasagne from Naples, it doesn't have the béchamel sauce (white sauce) as you would expect in the more traditional lasagne. It also has small meatballs as opposed to mince, and also salami and eggs are incorporated.
The regional cooking depends on a number of factors, not only as to what ingredients are most abundant each region, but also historical factors. Naples, for example, was founded by the Greeks, and this had some influence on the Neapolitan way of life; not only in the language and music, but also in the Italian cookery.
Some original and unique types of ingredients and cooking originated from the North; Balsamic vinegar, pesto and tortellini to name but a few! Other Italian food characteristically eaten in the North is polenta, which can be eaten in many different ways, e.g. fried and even in a polenta cake. Italian Dishes in the North tend to be a bit 'heavier' than that in the South, think the ingredients used for Spaghetti Carbonara compared to the classic healthier and lighter tomato sauces of the South.
Central Italy is very diverse and such regions as Rome, Florence and has little in common. Some examples to be found all around central Italy are Porchetta – a pig stuffed with rosemary and fennel, pork, lamb, black truffles and porcini mushrooms.
Italian cuisine in the South is characterized by the abundance use of fish, aubergines, peppers, olives, the spicy ingredient pepperoncino, and first and foremost the tomato, which has a huge industry in Naples. In the Naples and Campania regions, there is some Spanish and French influence to be found in the cookery. Pizza and pasta are especially popular and traditional, the Pizza Margherita having been born in Naples. In Apulia, they have a diet rich in fish and vegetables. The orecchiette pasta is also from Apulia. Although Italian cuisine varies greatly all over Italy, there is one thing you can be sure of, and that is enjoying your Italian food!
When anyone thinks of "Italian cuisine," often what comes to mind is pasta, red sauce, and garlic bread. Pasta, no doubt, plays a large part in most traditional Italian food , and few cultures know how to employ a tomato the way that Italians can. However, there are so many distinct styles and trademarks within the different regions of Italy that it is hard to lump together all Italian food into one general type of cooking. In reality each region has a very distinct style and taste, and there is really no way to appreciate Italian food without visiting restaurants and eateries all over the boot.
Tuscany is a region of Italy that takes up a small piece of the western coastline on the Tyrrhenian Sea . Since a large border of the Tuscan region is coastal, seafood plays a large role in the regional cuisine of Tuscany . A coveted destination for tourists, Tuscany is overflowing with cultural experiences, with roots stemming from the Renaissance. Florence , Pisa and the busy port of Livorno all lie within this modest region. Like it's simple but beautiful landscape, Tuscan cooking keep things simple. Tuscan bread, for example is a salt less crusted compliment to their judiciously spiced entrees.
While many people think of Italian cuisine as being very salty and filled with garlic, onion, and basil, Tuscan cuisine uses seasoning very sparingly to bring out the natural flavours of the vegetables, beans, and grains that make up their traditional regional cooking. Chefs of Tuscany are renowned for their rice dishes, and a fish or duck dish in Tuscany is often not complete without a risotto base. They also blend wine seamlessly into these dishes, evaporating the alcohol content and leaving the fruits to mingle with the grains and filled pastas that compliment the meat and fish entrees that bring the rich and famous from all over the world to Tuscany.
Along the coast, seafood plays an integral part of the cuisine. A trademark of the Tuscan coast is a soup called caccuccio. Caccuccio is a rich soup made from a tomato and fish base. The secret is to use many different types of fish, pureed bones and all directly into the base of the soup. This soup, served with hearty Tuscan bread is filling enough to constitute an entire meal. While the coast of Tuscany is home to many a delicacy, it is the varied nature of the Tuscan landscape that provides such variety in the regional cuisine of Tuscany .
The cattle and boars that are particular to the region, for example, make for a taste that you cannot find anywhere else, in soups, grilled dishes, and hams.
While Tuscany is responsible for only four percent of Italy 's overall olive oil production, Tuscan olive trees can live to be hundreds or even thousands of years old. So while each tree produces less of an oil yield than trees customarily found in other regions of Italy , the trees have a much more rich history. This simplicity grounded in a rich tradition is only appropriate for the Tuscan region.