|Italians take great pride in their traditional
cuisine. Towns and regions have their own specialties. In the north people
cook with butter and cheese. Gorgonzola cheese comes from Lombardy. Parmesan
cheese and prosciutto come from Parma. People eat polenta made from
corn in the Po Valley. In Genoa they make pesto with basil and pine
nuts and the Emilia Romagna region is famous for cold cuts. Romans are
known for their fettuccine and saltimbocca (veal with prosciutto
and cheese). Naples is the home of spaghetti and pizza. Sicily is known
for its spumoni ice cream, cheesecake, lemons, oranges and other fruit.
Calabrians make a special spiced salami called soppressata.
|Italians have been making wine for thousands of
years. Wine is produced in all regions, but the most important are Tuscany,
Piedmont and Friuli. Another important drink is coffee. Italian espresso
is dark and rich. Served with foamed milk, it is called cappuccino, named
for the hooded Capuchin monks.
"Buon appetito" is what you
say to people before a meal in Italy.
|Breakfast is not elaborate. Italians drink a quick
espresso or cappuccino with a roll or sweet cornetto (croissant).
Lunch and dinner are often substantial. The first course is normally pasta
with a sauce. The main course usually features meat (usually veal, pork
or chicken) and vegetables. This is often followed by fresh fruit. Fancy
desserts are reserved for special occasions. Wine is served with lunch
Pastas come in many different sizes and shapes.
Some have amusing names. Agnolotti means little fat lambs, orecchiette
means little ears, cannelloni means big pipes, vermicelli
means little worms, and farfalle means butterflies. Children learn
to twirl the long threads of spaghetti around their fork, using a spoon
to keep the pasta in place. Eventually they learn to do this without a
Red, ripe tomatoes
Bocconcini (soft mozzarella, available
at Italian delis)
Fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper
Slice tomatoes and bocconcini.
Arrange on a platter so that the slices alternate red and white to form
a circle. If you have extras you can make another circle of tomatoes and
cheese inside the bigger circle. Place the basil leaves over the tomatoes
and mozzarella so you can clearly see the red, green and white colours.
These are the colours of the Italian flag. Sprinkle with olive oil and
grind black pepper over the salad. Add salt.