Cuisine is definitely a very important aspect of Italian culture.
Italian food is highly famed: greatly loved and tirelessly imitated the world over, it has been a source of endless pleasure and joie-de-vivre in countries far and wide. And everyone knows how a tired, depressed individual will react if they come across a sign for Italian dining in the midst of a busy, industrial city anywhere in the world: their hearts will quite simply will glow!
Italian cookery is exceptionally varied, nutritious and healthy; traditions have been handed down from one family to the next over the centuries, and are associated mainly with country life in that dishes are directly linked to what the Earth produces over the changing seasons: in other words, wholesome cooking whose goodness depends on all-natural ingredients. Italian cooking is full of marvellous single pasta dishes made with all types of vegetables and pulses. These are also the prime ingredients for many local specialities though countless types of meat dishes abound, as well as fine fish from the plentiful seas around the peninsula, fragrant cheeses and exceptional desserts. But the undisputed star of Italian dining is the famous “first course”, in all its many varieties, including pasta “dry” or in broth, soups, many kinds of noodle soups and minestrones, risottos and timbales.
It must always be remembered that generally speaking, the origins of the most widely known traditional dishes derive from humble peasant cooking and from what was eaten by the poorer classes, which over the years have transformed into veritable “specialities”: one only has to think of soups made from stale bread and vegetables, such as the “ribollita” or the “acquacotta” from Tuscany, and many more recipes containing fairly modest ingredients that have nonetheless become absolute “classics” of Italian cookery. All of this goes to show that the goodness of any dish depends above all on the magical combination (always “unique”) achieved through an unrepeatable fusion of flavours and aroma, cooking times and the balancing of single ingredients, individual “creative” skills and care taken over all stages of preparation. At times all that’s needed in cookery is a single detail or a tiny touch to transform an ordinary dish by “normal” standards into a veritable triumph of taste. Passion therefore is a fundamental requisite of Italian cooking and without it, as with life in general, not much can be achieved. Regardless of any local differences, the most classic dishes in Italian cookery are kept alive across the nation, and are turned into more sophisticated delicacies when spiced up with a fuller range of ingredients by the skilful hand of a creative chef.
And now let’s look at how a typical Italian-style lunch might be prepared. A good starter might be an hors d’oevres of Neapolitan croutons and then, when palates have been suitably satiated with such typically Mediterranean flavours, maccheroni with Sicilian broccoli would make a fine first course to follow. After that comes the second course which could be a splendid roast leg of mutton with new potatoes. And that might be as far as it goes! But a tiny space can always be found for dessert: a fragrant tiramisù makes an excellent tail-piece to any fine lunch “with bows on”!!
More from Italy