There is no such thing as popular Italian
foods that are common all over Italy. Italian cuisine is
by local history and traditions, as well
as by the local and seasonal availability
of products. Some of Italy's most famous
gourmet delicacies which have gained internal fame, such as white
truffles, can be found only in certain regions of Italy.
This be said, the Italian menu has a typical
structure in much the same way all over Italy - with an
dessert -, but each
region of Italy has its own regional food specialties.
Common Italian foods and
dishes include all types of pasta, risotto and some soups (minestroni
and delicious meat and fish dishes.
Pasta can be subdivided according to their
composition, (only wheat flour and water or wheat flour, water and
eggs), their shelf-life (fresh or dry pasta), their production
method and their shape or cut.
Many shapes are available, but Italians usually
group the different shapes into short and long pasta, and plain or
stuffed pasta. Each shape of pasta is matched with a different sauce
depending on that shape's ability to hold that specific sauce. Some
pasta types are found only in a particular region or change name
according to the region.
A variety of thick soups
made with vegetables, beans and pasta, rice or potatoes. Common
ingredients include beans, onions, celery, carrots, stock, and
tomatoes. It is served as a primo
as an alternative to a pasta or risotto plate.
Zuppa di Pesce (Italian
Pizza is an oven-baked, flat, round-shaped bread
covered with ingredients such as tomato sauce, cheese, olive oil and
optionally other toppings. There are, broadly speaking, two types of
pizza: the Neapolitan, which is relatively tick and resembles a flat
bread, and the roman one, which is much thinner and crustier. The
Neapolitan pizza is close to the type of pizza found in the US.
Italians also distinguish
between red (with tomato sauce) and white pizza (also called
foccacia, which has no
tomato sauce, but can be topped with other ingredients).
Italian cuisine does not include a large variety
of spices, but the spices and herbs used are almost always used
fresh adding a delicate flavor to the dishes. Balsamic vinegar,
olive oil, Parmesan cheese (or Pecorino), black olives, pine kernels
are also used to flavor dishes (the latter one especially in some
regional dishes). Olive oil is also the basic ingredient used for
Risotto is a rice dish typically served as a
primo and which
can be flavored in a hundred different ways. Some of the most famous
risotto recipes are alla Romana
and alla Milanese.
risotto ai funghi,
risotto al tartufo bianco
(or with black truffle),
risotto ai frutti di mare
alla milanese (with saffron).
Minestrone (vegetable and beans soup)
Typical Italian main
dishes, depending on the region, include: bistecca alla Fiorentina,
brasato, costolette d'agnello arrosto or fritte, scaloppina alla
Milanese, bollito, ossobuco, parmigiana di melanzane and saltimbocca
Zuppa di Cozze
Unlike the name suggests not really a soup, but a
classic way of cooking and serving mussels, in white with a tasty
sauce of white wine, garlic and Italian parsley. Similarly, you also
have Zuppa di Vongole (clams) or a 'misto Cozze e Vongole'.
Other typical antipasti
misti include salumi (cold meats),
vegetali (vegetables) and formaggi (cheeses).
Depending on their type, Italian cheeses can be
served as antipasto, added as topping on
primi or used for the preparation of
contorni or desserts.
Famous Italian cheeses include Parmigiano, Pecorino and, of course,
In Italy (and the rest of
Europe) the name Parmesan is a protected designation of origin for
the hard, granular cheese from Parma. The generic name for this type
of cheese from other parts of Italy is grana.
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