Category: | Italian

Gastronomic Delight! Learning Italian Food

Italy is known for their cuisine, fashion, opera, art and interior and furniture designs. More and more people are learning to speak Italian to be exposed to the wonderful culture and tradition of Italy. A great way of experiencing Italian culture is by getting into and learning Italian food.

Italian cuisine traces its roots back to 4th century B.C. Significant changes, of course, had happened since that time. The discovery of the New World and the introduction of agricultural items such as potatoes, tomatoes, bell pepper, and maize had significant impact on the central parts of the cuisine.

Italian cuisine also evolved through various influences by neighbouring regions, conquerors, high profile chefs, and political upheavals. With all these influences, Italian cuisine was formed into what is known today as one of the premiere cuisines in the world.

Ingredients are not the same in the entire Italian food selection. There are some regional dishes that became national and spread across the country in the present day. Cheese and wine are important players in Italian food, there are many variations and they may play different roles in each region. Coffee, and more specifically espresso, has become highly important to the cultural cuisine of Italy.

Italian meals usually have no fewer than 3-4 courses. Aside from immediate sustenance, meals are seen as tie to spend with family and friends. Daily meals are much loner compared with other daily meals in other cultures. Family feasts and holiday celebrations tend to last for a long time.

Traditional Italian cooking is mainly reserved for special events like weddings or holiday feasts. Everyday meals would include first and second course, the side dish and coffee. Modern Italian cuisine includes single courses (all-in-one courses), providing carbohydrates and proteins at the same time like pasta and legumes.

Meal structures in Italian cuisine includes the aperitivo which serves as the appetizer before the large meal or antipasto which are also appetizers that can be hot or cold. Primo is the first course offered which is usually the most filling meal. Primo dishes would include pasta, risotto or polenta.

The seconda (second course) is the main dish. It is traditionally pork and chicken. Fish prepared are those which are caught locally. The contorno is the side dish that may be a salad or cooked vegetables.

Dessert may be formaggio e frutta (cheese and fruits) or dolce (cakes and cookies). Coffee is also offered in every meal. While digestive or liqueur is also offered after the meal.

For travellers and locals alike that would like to dine out, each establishment has a defined role and they traditionally sticks to it. These are the following food establishments common in Italy:

• Agriturismo – Working farms that often offer accommodations and meals. Bar/Caffé – Locations which serve coffee, soft drinks, juice and alcohol. Hours are from 6am to 10pm.

• Birreria – A bar that offers beer found in central and northern regions of Italy.

• Frasca/Locanda – Friulian wine producers that often open for the evening and many stay open late offering food along with their wines.

• Osteria – Focused on simple food of the local region, usually only having a verbal menu.

• Paninoteca – Sandwich specialty shop open during the day.

• Pizzeria – Wood fired pizzas are a specialty of Italy.

• Polentaria – A regional establishment seen in limited number in the northern part of Italy above Emilia-Romagna.

• Ristorante – Often offers upscale cuisine and printed menus.

• Spaghetteria – Originating in Napoli, offering pasta dishes and other main courses.

• Tavola Calda – Literally "hot table", offers pre-made regional dishes ordered from a queue, often served on a tray.

• Trattoria – A dining establishment often family run with inexpensive prices and an informal atmosphere.

Learning and eating Italian food is truly a gastronomic delight. Mangiare bene!

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