The Italian Kitchen
The Italian kitchen has developed by years of political and socials changements; it was influenced by others mediterranean kitchens as greek, jewess and arabic. In the year 1492, with the America discovery, new ingredients and products were introduced in the Italian kitchen like potatoes, tomatoes, mais and peppers.
Every italian region has a different kind of recipes: in Lombardy you can try Polenta, while in Sicily you can try Arancini. Do not even think to eat Polenta in Sicily and Arancini in Lombardy: that could be an unforgivable mistake!
One of the most important characteristic of the Italian kitchen is the simpleness of his dishes: condiments, spices and not too much ingredients. In Italy, most famous dishes has been invented by grandmother and not by chef; for these reasons, most of the recipes follow regional tradition and are cooked with local ingredients.
For most of the italians people, food is life. Italians are proud and jealous about their products: wines, cheeses, pasta…Most italians products got an important denomination to protect them from plagiarism and false products. DOC is the Controlled Denomination of Origin; there are also DOP, IGP and others. It’s a sort of “Food copyright”.
The italians meals
A tipical italian day starts with breakfast; the italian breakfast is usually formed by milk, coffee (espresso), tea, cookies, cereals, brioches and fruits. Secondly there is the lunch; a complete lunch is consituited by starters (hot or cold), first dish (pasta, risotto, soup or polenta), second dish (fish, meat and vegetables), fruit or dessert and coffee at the end. Coffee is followed, almost immediately, by “amazzacaffè” or “amaro”: usually these one are herbals liqueurs or limoncino. At the end we have dinner: usually is not like lunch but is more light: a soup or pasta and/or a second dish with meat or fish and vegetables. And coffee. Don’t even try to forget coffee. The real one. The Espresso. With capital E. Not that one who drowns in the water.
In addition, there are others two importants meals in the italian tradition: the first one is what we call “merenda” or “spuntino”: this one is a meal placed in the middle of the day, usually around 4/5 p.m. and it’s composed by sandwich, fruit, juice, bread with nutella/jam or also bread with ham or salame. The second one is the “aperitivo” or Happy hour: the aperitivo starts around 6 p.m. until 8.30 p.m. and consists in drink a cocktail, wine or spritzs accompained by olives, pistachios, bruschette, cheses, snacks, little sandwiches and, sometimes, a little portion of pasta or rice.
Did you ever try an italian Chrsistmas lunch?? You cannot imagine how it is; especially with your grandma or your mother keep saying…”MANGIA CHE SEI MAGRA!”. And do not forget the restaurants. If you decide to have a dinner in a restaurant, you will start with the aperitivo and then you will finish to eat starter, first dish, second dish, dessert, fruit, coffee, ammazzacaffe and the “limoncino” offered by the bartender.
In conclusion, you will never stop to eat but keep an eye on the check: that one bite and it will eat you. Painfully.