Italian cuisine has developed through centuries, with roots stretching to antiquity. Italian cuisine is noted for its regional diversity, abundance of difference in taste, and it is probably the most popular in the world, with influences abroad.

Italian cuisine is characterized by its simplicity, with many dishes having only three to eight ingredients. Italian cooks rely chiefly mainly on the quality of the ingredients. Ingredients and dishes vary by region.

ANTIQUITY

THE FIRST ITALIAN FOOD WRITER WROTE A POEM THAT SPOKE OF USING “TOP QUALITY AND SEASONAL” INGREDIENTS

The first known Italian food writer, in the 4th century BC, wrote a poem that spoke of using “top quality and seasonal” ingredients. By the time De re coquinaria was published in the 1st century AD, it contained 470 recipes calling for use of spices and herbs. The Romans employed Greek bakers to produce breads and imported cheeses from Sicily. The Romans reared goats for butchering, and grew artichokes and leeks.

In the Middle Ages the northern Italian regions show a mix of Germanic and Roman culture while the south reflects Arab influence, avoidance of excessive spices in favour of fresh herbs.

In the Renaissance The courts of Florence, Rome, Venice were central to the cuisine. Particular attention is given to seasons and places where fish should be caught and vegetables became a central part of the meal, not just accompaniments. Tomatoes are a typical part of Italian cuisine.

At the beginning of the 18th century, Italian culinary books began to emphasize the regionalism of Italian cuisine rather than French cuisine.
Italian cuisine has a great variety of different ingredients which are commonly used, ranging from fruits, vegetables, sauces, meats, etc. In the North of Italy, fish, potatoes, rice, corn, sausages, pork, and different types of cheeses are the most common ingredients. Pasta dishes with use of tomato are spread in all Italy.

In Northern Italy though there are many kinds of stuffed pasta, polenta and risotto are equally popular if not more so. Basil, nuts, vinegar (balsamic and wine) and olive oil are very common. Common ingredients include ham, sausage, different sorts of salami, truffles, grana cheese, and tomatoes.

Traditional Central Italian cuisine uses ingredients such as tomatoes, all kinds of meat, fish, and pecorino cheese. pasta served with meat sauce (including game meat). Finally, in Southern Italy, tomatoes – fresh or cooked into tomato sauce – peppers, olives and olive oil, garlic, artichokes, oranges, ricotta cheese, eggplants, zucchini, certain types of fish (anchovies, sardines and tuna), and capers are important components to the local cuisine.

Italian cuisine is also well known (and well regarded) for its use of a diverse variety of pasta. Pasta include noodles in various lengths, widths and shapes. Pasta can be simple or filled with other ingredients (meat, cheese or vegetables).

The word pasta is also used to refer to dishes in which pasta products are a primary ingredient. It is usually served with sauce. There are hundreds of different shapes of pasta with at least locally recognized names.

COFFEE

ITALIAN STYLE ESPRESSO, IS MADE FROM A BLEND OF COFFEE BEANS

Italian style coffee (caffè), also known as espresso, is made from a blend of coffee beans. Espresso beans are roasted medium to medium dark in the north, and darker as you move south.

A common misconception is that espresso has more caffeine than other coffee; in fact the opposite is true. The longer roasting period extracts more caffeine. The modern espresso machine used now in every coffee shop was invented in 1937 in Italy.

ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES

ITALY PRODUCES THE LARGEST AMOUNT OF WINE IN THE WORLD

Italy produces the largest amount of wine in the world and is both the largest exporter and consumer of wine. There are twenty separate wine regions.

the Italian government passed the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) law in 1963 to regulate place of origin, quality, production method and type of grape. The designation Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) is a less restrictive designation to help a wine maker graduate to the DOC level. In 1980, the government created the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG), reserved for only the best wines.

There are also several other popular alcoholic drinks in Italy. Limoncello, a traditional lemon liqueur from Sicily and Southern Italy Made from lemon, it is an extremely strong drink which is usually consumed in very small proportions, in small glasses or cups.

Amaro  are common digestifs, made with herbs, which are usually drunk after heavy meals.

Grappa is the typical alcoholic drink of northern Italy, generally associated with the culture of the Alps mountains.

The three most notable and recognizable Italian aperitifs are Martini, Aperol and Campari.

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