What is Real Italian Food Like?

Michael Swamy

Authentic Italian cuisine

Related Reads Italian cuisine has evolved through social and political changes through the centuries, its not all about pizza and pasta as one may see in the movies, nor is it that pasta drowned in a blob of sauce, nor bell peppers and tomatoes which were introduced to Italy only around the 18th century, that we see in restaurants around India.

Italian cuisine rests on using seasonal and the freshest ingredients, no strong spices or herbs to mask the flavours of the dish. It is all about tasting the flavours of the main ingredients that constitute a dish. Ingredients and dishes vary from region to region and have become synonymous with the wines grown in the particular area. There's something about cuisines tasting better in their homeland that holds true. The Greeks, the Vikings, the Moors have all left an influence on Italian food. Italian cuisine is still known by its regional accents. Italy only became a whole country in 1861 and became culturally connected during the World War.

The famous Italian pasta

Regional differences aside, the food is flexible and innovative built on variation. Its cuisine has a strong influence on the European cooking. It was from Italy that sweets, preserves were presented to the western world. With recipes that use leaner meats and fish, it is based on cooking techniques like poaching, broiling or grilling, and uses olive oil. This has changed from the heavy diet of the peasant cuisine to become the refined Italian cuisine we know of today.

A few of the famous Italian regions are Fruili known for its bacon and cheese, the famed risotto from Veneto and Lombardy along with heavier sauces and spicier dishes. Piedmont is famous for its wines and its prosciutto; the famous parmesan cheese that goes over pasta dishes comes from Emilia-Romagna. White truffle, which is very expensive, comes from Tuscany whose beef dishes are also very well known. The influence of ancient Greece is to be found in the cuisine of Sicily where you find dishes of goose, the interplay of sweet with sour flavours and wine.

An Italian meal never goes beyond three to four courses unless it is for a special occasion. A meal usually begins with an aperitif (an alcoholic drink taken before a meal to stimulate appetite) like Campari or Cinzano along with an Antipasto (Starter) which may be hot or cold. This is followed by Soup and Pasta. The second course is the main dish which is mainly meat or fish with a strong trend towards wild game, especially in Tuscany. A Contorno (Side Dish) of steamed or poached vegetables or a salad is served to go with the main course. And finally Dolce (dessert) followed by a strong shot of espresso or black coffee accompanied by a liqueur like grappa or limoncello.

To enjoy true, authentic Italian food, it would be best to take a tour to the beautiful country. The Indianised version is nowhere near the real stuff. So investing in a good Italian cookbook, whipping up some good dishes at home with a bottle of good wine is a thing to indulge in.

By Michael Swamy | posted Nov 8th 2013 at 12:16PM

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