Italians are famous for their delicious cuisine and enjoyment of long, relaxing meals of rich pasta, flavoursome pizza and complementary wine. Proud of their cookery skills and the preparation that goes into each dish, Italian cuisine is designed to bring families together. Using fresh, simple ingredients, many dishes incorporate no more than eight key components, used with precision in every aspect of the food.
This month we’re featuring Italy as part of our Expedia World on a Plate challenge, and where better to start than the rich heritage of their delicious food?
Keeping it simple
Italians enjoy an appetising Mediterrean diet that is heavily based on the use of fresh vegetables and fruit, cheese, meat, fish, pasta, bread, olive oil and herbs. Traditionally, the extensive feast that Italians enjoy was reserved for weddings and special occasions. However, one or two courses are regularly enjoyed at lunchtime, with a lighter meal at dinner, followed by a coffee.
Each Italian region uses their local influence on dishes to create something wonderful. The coastal towns of Italy enjoy oodles of fresh seafood such as anchovies, mullet, shrimps, squid and oysters, particularly in regions like Sicily, where they boast an assortment of seafood markets and restaurants.
For those seeking the best pizza, many head to the city of Naples, known for its mouth-watering yet basic pizza recipes cooked in classic wood-fired pizza ovens for the ultimate taste. Tomatoes, oregano, mozzarella and simple sauce combined with fresh dough, means many may leave Italy a few pounds heavier!
Bread is also prevalent throughout the country, typically enjoyed with each meal in the form of an appetising focaccia, or a rustic loaf. Bread is important to all Italians, due to its role within religion and daily lives, whilst recipes vary slightly depending on which area you are eating in.
Any Italian meal is not complete without a little bit of something sweet to finish off. Italians are known for their gelato, citing Rome as one of the best places in Europe to enjoy a creamy scoop or three whilst browsing the sites and sounds of the city. More classic Italian desserts include a coffee-based tiramisu, a creamy panacotta and biscotti for an afternoon snack. Why not try your hand at creating one yourself?
Are you a budding Italian chef in the making? Do you have any favourite recipes that you’d love to expand on? Don’t forget to tag your pizza, pasta and panacotta pictures with the #expediaworldonaplate hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to ensure we get to see and share them!