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Month of Italy!

Recipes from several Regions.

 

Tracing down the culinary history of Italy we find that it started to make its mark during the Roman Empire movement more than 2000 years ago. The Italians even have a cookbook dating back to the first century B.C which shows how important a place food had in society. The structure of Italy as a country underwent a huge change after the fall of the Roman Empire. Italy was now a body of individually governed states that had separate and distinctive identities and hence developed their own tradition. This era was the time when the cuisine of Italy started developing its diversity that we find in it today. Each region developed its own distinctive style of cooking and a formalized menu based on the local ingredients and the lifestyle of the people living there. You would find great variance in the way similar dishes are prepared in different regions.

Italian cuisine in itself takes heavy influences, including Etruscan, ancient Greek, ancient Roman, Byzantine, and Jewish. Significant changes occurred with the discovery of the New World with the introduction of items such as potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers and maize, now central to the cuisine but not introduced in quantity until the 18th century. Italian cuisine is noted for its regional diversity, abundance of difference in taste, and is known to be one of the most popular in the world, with influences abroad.

Italian cuisine is characterized by its extreme simplicity, with many dishes having only four to eight ingredients. Italian cooks rely chiefly on the quality of the ingredients rather than on elaborate preparation. Dishes and recipes are often the creation of grandmothers rather than of chefs, and this makes many recipes ideally suited for home cooking. This is one of the main reasons behind the ever increasing popularity of this cuisine, as cooking magazines in foreign countries popularize Italian recipes targeted at the home cook. Ingredients and dishes vary by region. Many dishes that were once regional, however, have proliferated with variations throughout the country.

 

Ingredients.

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 (such as cod, or baccalà), potatoes, rice, maize, corn, sausages, pork, and different types of cheeses are the most common ingredients. Pasta dishes with lighter use of tomato, in Northern Italy though there are many kinds of stuffed pasta and risotto. Other ingredients include several types of fish and seafood dishes; basil (found in pesto), nuts and olive oil are very common.

 

Italian cuisine is also well known for its use of a diverse variety of pasta. Pasta includes noodles in various lengths, widths and shapes. Distinguished on shapes they are named — penne, spaghetti, linguine, fussily, lasagne and many more varieties that are filled with other ingredients like ravioli and tortellini. The word pasta is also used to refer to dishes in which pasta products are a primary ingredient. It is usually served with sauce. Pasta is categorized in two basic styles: dried and fresh. Dried pasta made without eggs can be stored for up to two years under ideal conditions, while fresh pasta will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator.


Drinks

Italy produces the largest amount of wine in the world and is both the largest exporter and consumer of wine. Only about a quarter of this wine is put into bottles for individual sale. Two-thirds is bulk wine used for blending in France and Germany. The wine distilled into spirits in Italy exceeds the production of wine in the entirety of the New World. There are twenty separate wine regions.

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