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When Garibaldi finally unified Italy in 1861 Massimo D’Azeglio famously announced: “We have made Italy, we now need to make Italians.” Italy is known as the nation of campanilismo where each region, village, town, and city developed its own culture, including a unique way of cooking or making sauces, pastas, sausages, wines, cheeses, breads, etc.

Therefore, there is no such thing as a uniform Italian cuisine. As a matter of fact there are hundreds of Italian cuisines…

Moreover, the food known throughout Italy today came into existence over many years of trial and error, mixing new ideas with old, and creating dishes with the freshest ingredients available.

Here are a series of fun facts related to Italian food:

  • It was not until the 1700s that tomatoes were first introduced to Italy.
  • Insalata Caprese has nothing to do with goat cheese (capra in Italian). It relates to a gloriously simple Tomatoes and mozzarella salad with olive oil and basil invented by a chef from the Island of Capri.
  • Corn was introduced to Italy in the 1600s and is the basic ingredient of Italian polenta (corn starch).
  • There are over 450 pasta shapes in Italy and practically as many types of sauce.
  • Pasta should always be eaten al dente, literally meaning “to the tooth,” as it is not only tastier but easier to digest.
  • The penne hollow center allows it to hold sauce, while the angular ends act as scoops.
  • There are generally two main categories of pasta: corta (short) : ex. rigatoni, penne, farfalle, macaroni etc. or lunga (long): spaghetti, bucatini, linguini, etc.
  • Pasta corta can also be divided into two categories: “Pasta liscia” (smooth) and “penne rigate” (furrowed)  which allow to hold still more sauce.
  • The average person in Italy eats more than 51 pounds of pasta every year. The average person in North America eats about 15-1/2 pounds per year.
  • Granita  traces back to the Arab rule in Sicily during medieval times.

Quote:

“French cuisine will lose its clout as soon as Italian chefs realize the sheer amount of quality raw materials they have access”

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