The Food and Drink of Italy
Meal times are an important part of Italian culture, it’s a moment to treasure with the family, catch up with friends or indulge loved ones. Many dishes are influenced heavily by cheese, tomatoes, olive oil and of course washed down with a nice glass of wine.
Italy is probably most famous for inventing the humble pizza, where its origins can be traced back to Latin manuscripts of the 10th century. The modern take on the popular flatbread stems from Naples, where the Neapolitan Pizza was first introduced. When it comes to the Margheritta, focus is on simplicity, with key ingredients of San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil and olive oil.
Pasta is another staple food on the Italian diet, whether it be part of a light lunch or a sizeable dinner covered in parmesan cheese. If you want to try out recipes that have been handed down generations, then head on holiday to Sicily, where pasta was first introduced.
In the north of Italy you will find risotto is often the regional dish. So when you’ve booked a gondola ride through the canals of Venice or find yourself on a city break to Milan, look for your nearest restaurant serving this loveable rice dish.
Travel back down the country and cheese production becomes increasingly important. You will soon find some of the best in buffalo mozzarella, Pecorino Sardo and an array of hard cheeses such as Castelmagno in Piedmont. If you’re in need of a cheese and wine session, then there are plenty of wine tours available in the region too.
Speaking of wine, you can’t mention food and drink of Italy without talking about the nations favourite alcoholic beverage. It’s one of the oldest wine producing countries in the world, featuring 20 wine regions. The Aosta Valley, perfect for long walks of hiking trails, the beautiful coastline of Tuscany or the sparkling whites of Lombardy to name a few.
Then there’s the ice-cream, or to give the Italian name gelato or “frozen”. There are plenty of ice cream parlours throughout Italy, along with numerous kiosks and restaurants all laying claim to the best in the country. If you’re after authenticity, then head down the side streets and off the beaten track. The milk and cream based treat will provide the perfect refreshment to those long city walks.
With so much choice why not join a food tour, where you can sample the best in Italian cooking as your own tour guide shows you around the sights. If you’re looking to learn from the gastronomic masters, then you could always sign up for a cooking class. However you spend your holiday, when it comes to eating in Italy, you certainly won’t be going home hungry.