Italian cuisine and recipes
Italian cuisine is one of the most popular in the world. There are so many Italian recipes that you will find several variations of the same dish.
For example lasagna made in the north of Italy is very different from the one made in the south. Famous Italian recipes are for pasta, pizza, seafood, poultry, meat and vegetable dishes. Desserts are also very famous. You will find more seafood dishes coming from the coastal areas of Italy such as Naples, Venice, Genova, etc. Piedmont is famous for his meats (often eaten raw) and truffles. Tuscany is also famous for meat and game as well as caciucco (seafood stew) from Livorno.
An Italian meal
A formal meal in Italy is a succession of courses, with no main course, starting with an antipasto, followed by a first course (primo) of either pasta, risotto, or soup; and a second course (secondo) of meat, poultry, or fish, accompanied by one or two vegetable side dishes (contorni). Then there is a salad (insalata), sometimes cheese, and the meal ends with fruit or dessert (dolce) or both.
Antipasto never played an important part in Italian eating. Not long ago it consisted of only a few slices of prosciutto or salame, and these are still the favorites. Antipasto is meant only to whet the appetite, so do not make too much.
For most people in Italy the first course is the most important, and pasta is the favorite food. Although most people prefer the simplest treatment - olive oil and garlic with fresh raw tomato and basil or a dressing of butter melted with sage leaves, sprinkled with freshly grated black pepper and parmigiano reggiano - the versatility of pasta is extraordinary. Risotto, gnocchi and other rice dishes are also versatile. Soups can be a meal in themselves or light and delicate.
With so much coast Italy has a wide range of fish and seafood. Until recently fish was considered to be a Friday dish only, and not grand enough to serve to guests, but now it is one of the most popular foods.
Meat and poultry dishes are mostly grills, roasts, and stews; there are lovely game dishes, and offal is particularly good. Egg dishes and vegetable dishes can also be served as a second course.
Vegetable dishes are an important part of every meal, so make good use of the repertoire. Salad can be a green salad or cooked vegetables dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.
Cheese is served at the end of the meal in northern Italy, especially in Piedmont, but not usually in the south. At home, dessert is generally fruit, sweets being reserved for special and festive occasions. After fruit or dessert, strong black coffee from a high or after dinner roast may be served in small cups, and perhaps followed with brandy or grappa, an amaro (bitter), anise-flavored sambuca or a sweet wine such as vin santo, accompanied by pastries or biscotti with almonds.