|Posted by tenutasantelisabetta on September 14, 2009 at 4:48 AM|
While someof the most popular dishes associated with the Italian culture include atempting slice of pizza and a heaping plate of pasta, there is much more to theworld of Italian cooking. Throughout the many regions in Italy, thedistinctive cuisine of the Italians shines through in a wide-range of eatinghabits, styles of cooking, and selection of local ingredients. The changing ofthe times has also influenced Italian food, as the meals served in the pre-Romanera possess both similarities and differences in the cuisine of today.
Theculinary history of Italyestablished a reputation more than 2,000 years ago, which includes anillustrious movement during the Roman Empire.Culturally, food preparation was quite important in the past where flashes ofsignificance have been captured in the only surviving cookbook (Apicius), whichdates back to the first century BC.
The spreadof Italian food diversity began after the fall of the Roman Empire when individual city states began to uphold separateidentities and traditions. Each region began to display its own unique way ofcooking, right down to the formation of a meatball to the characteristiccheeses and wine produced in a locale. The north developed Tuscan beef, whileblack truffles were very popular in Marches.Provolone and mozzarella cheeses developed in the south, as well as a host ofinteresting citrus fruits.
Diversetypes of bread, variations in pasta, and varying food preparation techniquesalso differed according to region. The southern regions of Italy embracehard-boiled spaghetti, while the north often prefers a soft egg noodle. Milan is known for their risotto, while Bolognahas a deep history regarding tortellini, and Naples is famous for their pizzas.
Over theyears, Italian cuisine has greatly evolved in part because of a wealth ofoutside influences that have added to its characteristic flavor and appeal. Inthe beginning, ancient Greek cookery became an integrated part of Italiancuisine. Eventually, a wealth of imports found their way into the kitchens ofearly Italians, who sent Roman ships to collect a variety of important foods,including wheat, wine, exotic ingredients, and fine spices from around theworld. Some ships even traveled to faraway locations, such as China, to bringback edible resources that catapulted the depth and variety of Italian cookingstyles.
Coastalregions are known for their developments in delicious fish and seafood dishes.For example, the island of Sardinia supplies a moretraditional and simple style of cuisine, which often incorporated delicacies,associated with the sea. Swordfish, lobster, anchovies, sardines, and otherMediterranean treats represent Italian cooking of the area. In Sicily (another islandregion), a great deal of the cooking drew heavily from North Africaninfluences. An Arab influence also affected cuisine on the island and withinthe rest of the south, especially with the introduction of various spices andsweets, such as the Sicilian ice cream cake called cassata.
As for oneof the most popular Italian dishes, while the history books often state thatpasta was a product of the Chinese brought back by Venetian merchant, MarcoPolo, it was actually a rediscovery of a food item eaten during Etruscan andRoman times. It is believed that the first pasta in Italy was made similar tothe noodles of today – from the same durum wheat – which was cooked in ovensinstead of boiled in water.
Today, thedifferences in Italian cooking still show through in the distinctions betweenthe north and the south. Each region still carries their own traditions incooking that reflects deep history and culture with a never ending supply ofmain courses, appetizers, and desserts that continuously tempts the taste buds.
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