Italy is a country of food! This is a widely known fact and there is little doubt about it. While there are many other countries in which you can eat great foods, Italy is a place where we can definitely surprise you with our absolutely delicious cuisine.
You should know first that Italy is divided into twenty areas that we call Le Regioni Italiane. Even though Italy is a small country, each area has its own traditions, dialect, and food; it’s like there are twenty different countries in one.
While each individual region is different, we all respect each other and appreciate all our many diverse traditions. In addition, there are also common foods that we eat in every region that are an essential part of the Italian way of life. Here, we will learn about some of these wonderful Italian foods:
Pasta is the most common food found in Italy, and it is becoming more and more common in other countries as well (the main pasta producers export a lot). We usually eat flavored pasta, and the most commonly used sauces are Olive Oil and Grana Padano or Italian Tomato Sauce and Basil. These are great choices if you just want something light and quick to eat for lunch.
We also have sauces that are more complicated to make and that are locally owned by certain Italian regions such as Pesto alla Genovese, Amatriciana, Carbonara, Zafferano (which is best for making a risotto), Caponata, and many others…
The main differences between pasta in Italy and pasta in foreign countries are the cooking time, the quality of pasta, and the quality of the sauce. We all prefer homemade sauce rather than one bought from a supermarket.
This is truly the most wonderful taste that you will ever appreciate, because real pizza can only be found here in Italy. While pizza is common throughout the entire country and it is very good, the most traditional pizza is only made in the city of its birth: Naples. There is not a lot to say about it, so come here and try it!
Bread is one of the greatest Italian foods because it was defined in ancient times as Il Cibo dei Poveri, or “Food for Poor People.” In fact, because it was originally made with quality ingredients, it was amazing. However, now we are experiencing a decrease in quality due to mass distribution. Real quality bread is becoming expensive, but it is also easily recognizable.
Cured Meats, which we call insaccati
This is one of the most common meat based foods in Italy, which we combine with bread, cheese, or jam. In Italy, there is a large variety of quality cured meats. Each region has it’s own local type and there are cities that actually own the leading production of specific kinds. Some examples of these Italian insaccati and their home cities are:
- Prosciutto Crudo di Parma: Parma is a city in the northeast of Italy, located in a region called Emilia Romagna.
- Mortadella Bologna: Bologna is a city in the northeast of Italy, also located in the Emilia Romagna region.
- Speck di Cadore: Cadore is a very small town in the northeast of Italy, located in a region called Veneto.
- Speck del Trentino alto Adige: Trentino Alto Adige is a mountainous region and it is very famous for its Speck, a cured meat with a strong flavor that very much fits the “mountain mood.”
There are many other insaccati from other areas. In fact, we can say that every region has one or two typical insaccati.
As in France, there is also a big culture around cheese in Italy due to the fact that every region has its own local type (like with cured meats). Thus, we have many cheese varieties. We discern between Formaggi Morbidi (soft cheeses) like Mozzarella, Stracchino, Ricotta, Gorgonzola, and Mascarpone, and Formaggi Stagionati (hard cheeses) like Grana Padano, Asiago, and Fontina.
Brioche e Cappuccino
This is a combo that all Italian people like to consume for breakfast. Italian cappuccino has been imitated all around the world (and a lot of foreign countries imitate it very well), but the secret is the quality of the coffee and the technique for making it. Brioche is a sweetened bread that we also call Cornetto or Pasta, and it is filled with Crema Pasticcera (cream), jam, or chocolate.
This may be a drink, but it is also a pillar of Italian tradition. This is especially true in the case of what we call Espresso or Ristretto, which we like to drink in the mornings, after lunch, during the afternoon, or after dinner (but only when we have dinner at a restaurant). Many Italians also love to drink it without sugar in order to fully appreciate its flavor.
There are many other foods and drinks in Italy you should try, but start with these ones and you won’t regret it!