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A Quick Guide to Italian Cuisine
Italy is known for it many diverse provinces, cathedrals and bell towers and it is the diversity of its people that has led to hundreds of different types of cuisine being developed along with many thousands of recipes.
Italy's rich and colorful past has contributed to the diverse range of cuisine. The food in Northern Italy and the north eastern regions generally prepare food using butter, cream, rice, polenta, lasagna, fresh egg pasta, mascarpone, grana padano and parmigiano cheeses.
The coastal northern and central regions of Italy tend to use tortellini, ravioli and prosciutto.
Southern regions of Italy are known for the use of cheeses such as mozzarella, caciocavallo, and pecorino. Southern Italians tend to prepare their dishes using tomatoes, olive oil, and dried pasta.
Italian cuisine is synonymous with flavor, color and presentation. Wherever you go in the world you will find restaurants selling pizza, pasta and many other Italian specialties. In Rome you will find that the crusts of pizzas are thin, while the crusts of Neapolitan pizza and Sicilian pizza tend to be much thicker.
Each country that has adopted the pizza has added its own variation on the original leading to a food that has numerous tasty toppings such as olives, tomatoes, prosciutto, bacon, onions, cheese, salami eggs etc
Italians enjoy leisurely dining and they like to sit and savor the flavors of the food they are eating. And although there is a popular misconception that Italian meals are large, the portions are actually smaller than those served at a typical meal in America or the UK. This means you can enjoy a tasty meal and leave the table without feeling as if you have overindulged.
Italians tend to use seasonal produce so the food choices will change according to the seasons, so if you have a particular favorite you may not be able to enjoy it all year round, but this means you will enjoy it more when the season comes around again. This also means that you will be able to enjoy an ever changing menu of deliciously fresh foods.
A meal will generally begin with an antipasto platter of locally produced affettati misti (salami, soppressa, pancetta), or fish based starters such as sarde in saor (marinated sardines). And of course there are always plenty of vegetarian starters available like the classic bruschetta (toasted garlic bread and tomatoes drizzled with a good quality olive oil), sottoaceti (pickled vegetables) and pomodori secchi (sun dried tomatoes in oil), olives, roasted capsicum, marinated mushrooms and artichoke hearts.
Main meals tend to be taken in the midday and consist of a pasta dish followed by a meat or fish dish. Risotto or soup served with thick chunks of Italian bread is often substituted for the pasta course.
Italians make the best gelati in the world and there is nothing quite like enjoying a tangy gelato while sitting by the Trevi fountain, watching the world go by.
Italian Gelato, or the plural Gelati, is ice cream made from milk and sugar, which is combined with different flavors such as hazelnut, pistachio stracciatella, lime, peach and many other refreshing flavors. As the ingredients are freezing the ice crystals are stirred to break them up as they form. The end result is a dense, delightfully flavored confection.
Italian cuisine can be enjoyed anywhere in the world although there is nothing quite like the experience of sitting down and enjoying a tasty meal in the country where fresh is best and the flavors combine to excite your taste buds.
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