All you need to know about one of the healthiest and tastiest cuisines in the world.
Why is Italian food so famous?
Italian people are famous for their passion for food and for cooking. Both Italian women and men are generally able to cook a good plate of pasta, this i because since they are little, they watch their mums cook spaghetti with tomato for them. Or at least I did.
It’s all about the quality of the ingredients
- The first secret is the availability of good quality ingredients such as fresh vegetables and good extra virgin olive oil.
- The second secret is a cooking technique that is based on the “soffritto” which is the base for cooking half of Italian recipes. To make soffritto you need to chop thinly onion and other vegetables and shallow fry them with a few spoons of extra virgin olive oil.
The best Italian food:
- Pizza margherita. One of the most famous food in the world is Italian, it was invented in Naples for Margherita the queen. It’s a simple flour base, topped with uncooked tomato salsa, mozzarella and basil.
- Italian spaghetti with ragù alla bolognese. It’s a classic dish you can find everywhere in Italy but it’s widely popular in Emilia Romagna and Tuscany.
- Melanzane alla parmigiana. It’s a baked aubergine recipe made with sliced aubergines layered with tomato sauce and parmesan. It looks a little like moussaka.
- “Bistecca alla fiorentina” stake. Is a T-bone stake that is generally served rare and it’s typically from Florence. The meat is aged for up to 45 days which prevents it to be too bloody. It’s generally served with potatoes.
- Caprese salad. This is one of the simplest recipes in the world, but it’s incredibly tasty because of the amazing quality of ingredients. It’s made with fresh tomato slices, mozzarella, basil, EVO oil, salt and pepper. See the pictures below.
- Risotto alla Milanese. The risotto alla milanese is a traditional recipe from Milan and it’s made with rice, saffron and parmesan grated cheese. Please note that the parmesan in Milan is called Grana Padano which means grated cheese from the padana flat in the north of Italy. You can taste the best risotto all milanese at the osteria Conchetta in Milan.
- Seafood. Italy is surrounded by the mediterranean sea on three sides and every city on the coast offers an appropriate selection of seafood dishes to enjoy your lunch or dinners. From “spaghetti alle vongole” (Spaghetti with clams), to Cozze (Mussels), Tuna, Sea breams, Seabass and Swordfish, Calamari and Octopus. And if you like it raw you can enjoy it safely as Italians know how to make it safe, by the way we called “pesce crudo” o “crudité”. Octopus salad with potatoes and parsley is a must have in my opinion.
- Fried and battered vegetables. One of the specialities of Tuscany is fried vegetables, they are available in most of the restaurants and you can have them all through the year. From artichokes to zucchini (courgettes) they are a tasty starter or side dish. I love the Fiori di Zucca (picture above) and the artichokes, but also the carrots are worth a try.
- The other types of pasta. Italians eat pasta practically every day either at lunch or dinner. Among the most famous pasta recipes there are: Spaghetti alla carbonara” made with egg and bacon sauce; “Spaghetti all’amatriciana” with tomato and bacon sauce; Lasagna that is flat pasta layered and baked with ragù alla bolognese; and finally the Tortellini which is pasta filled with a paste made of cheese and parma ham, served in broth in Emilia Romagna or with ragù. Check out our article on pasta dishes for more inspiring pasta dishes.
Desserts: tiramisù, pasticcini and gelato
Italians love ice cream “gelato”, so do the tourist that come to Italy from all over the world. In Italy there are dedicated artisanal shops that make gelato with a variety of flavours from yogurt to salted caramel, from pistacchio to fondente chocolate.
If you are in Florence there are a couple of Gelaterie I recommend: la Sorbetteria in Piazza Tasso or the gelateria in Piazza della Passera.
Sicily and the granita
Sicily is famous for the pistacchio, the oranges and the seafood. The Sicilian cuisine has influences from the different populations that conquered and lived on the island throughout the centuries: greek, arabs, romans, normans and others.
The things I appreciate the most in Sicily are the seafood: spaghetti with scampi, marinated raw tuna and swordfish “crudité di tonno e spada” and the granita.
The Italian drinks to go with your food
Every food and meal deserves its own drink. In Italy you can have great white wines, red wines and beer. And each region has its own wine and beer. We recommend to to choose a local wine or beer to go with your food or simply water will do the job.