Traditional Foods of Italy
Italy is known for its abundance of flavors, ranging from their warm breads, rich pastas and decadent desserts. Whether you plan to travel to Italy or stop by your neighborhood Italian restaurant, you are in for a toothsome treat every time.
Breads and Pizza
No Italian meal would be complete without a warm, buttery loaf of pane (Italian for bread). In ancient Rome, bakers were highly regarded and bread was a staple of many meals. Traditionally, Italian bread is baked in a wood-fire oven to give it a soft doughy center and a hot crispy crust. It is best served with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
One of the most iconic Italian meals is pizza, whose popularity has extended far beyond Italy. The Pizza Margherita is one of the most traditional pies to come from Italy and is known for its simplicity. Thin crust, tomato sauce, a blend of four cheeses and basil make the whole of this pizza. Drizzle some olive oil and crack black pepper over the top and you have a feast good enough for the Roman gods.
Strings, shells, bow ties and cylinders--pasta comes in almost every shape imaginable. It is estimated that Italians eat over 60 pounds of pasta per year and its place in history dates back over a thousand years.
Almost as important as the pasta itself, the sauce that it is cooked in can make or break the meal. Tomato sauce, creamy Alfredo sauce and pesto sauce (made by pureeing basil, olive oil, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese) are some of the more traditional sauces. Top with a meatball or toss in some vegetables to make this meal complete. And don't forget the cheese on top!
Italy is home some of the most sinfully sweet desserts in the world. Gelato, or Italy's ice cream, was thought to be introduced by the Neapolitans in the 18th century and differs from ice cream in its smooth texture. It is made from milk and not cream also making it lower in fat. Cannoli on the other hand are not as guiltless, consisting of sweetened ricotta cheese wrapped in a pastry shell and topped with nut or candied fruits.
Katherine Harrington received her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from San Francisco State University, where she was a senior producer for the "Golden Gate [X]press." She currently works in public policy mediation and facilitation. Harrington has been writing, professionally since 2008, specializing in culture, art, fashion and food.