Why I Absolutely Love Italian Food And You Should Too

Why I Absolutely Love Italian Food And You Should Too

Italian Food - Calabrian TableAlthough the authentic Italian food of our ancestors diligently changes hands from generation to generation, the recipes evolve over time.  Also known as comfort food to anyone of Italian descent, it is an integral part of our culture.  Many years ago, meals arrived on the table directly from the farm.  Our favorite traditional dishes originated from our ancestors working long hard days in the fields.  “La cucina tipica” was the result of needing to feed many mouths with a limited income.    

Rest assured; the ingredients in authentic Italian cooking are always simple, fresh, and seasonal.  Simplicity is the cornerstone of delicious Italian food.  Unlike many other cuisines, most Italian dishes only have a handful of ingredients.  The focus is on the pairing of flavors.  For example,  the classic combinations of melon and prosciutto, tomato and basil, and chocolate and hazelnut.  Equally important is the freshness of the ingredients.  Using high-quality seasonal ingredients is what sets Italian food apart, and makes it a favorite around the world.

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Italian Food – La Cucina Povera

“La cucina povera” literally translates to the poor kitchen.  In reality, it refers to the ability to make use of what is seasonally available in abundance without wasting anything.  Our ancestors were frugal geniuses.  They created culinary magic from what was available through their hard labor.  Although this approach is not unique to Italy, Our ancestors have certainly mastered the technique of creating exceptional Italian food with ingredients of necessity.

Seasonal foods available in abundance quickly became the star of the dish.  Also, anything left over got a new life to create the next meal.  Somewhere along the way, making due and getting by with what was available evolved into a highly appreciated art and science.  The winning combination of ingredients of necessity, creativity, and passion is what goes into the Italian food that we know and love today.

Some of the best restaurants in Italy aren’t world renowned, and they certainly don’t have Michelin stars.  In fact, they thrive in rural areas well off the beaten path.  There is no menu or wine list.  Conversely, course after course of mouthwatering Italian food arrives at your table accompanied by delicious homemade wine and liqueurs.  These hideaways are the essence of “La cucina povera.”

Three Reasons To Love Italian Food

Obviously, there are a lot more than three reasons to love Italian food.  First and foremost, I feel so connected with Italian cuisine because it is in my DNA.  Personally, it brings me back to my childhood and Sunday dinners at my grandparents’ house.  I close my eyes and imagine the smell of my grandmother’s homemade sauce cooking on the stove.  I can still hear my grandfather playing Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, and Dean Martin records.  All the great memories of the hours spent around the table talking, laughing, and eating, bring tears of joy to my eyes.  Needless to say, the root of my love for Italian food lies within my heritage.

1.  For The Love Of Pasta And Embracing Carbohydrates

Italian food - Homemade pastaPasta is a traditional Italian food that came onto the scene long before the problem of obesity and diabetes surfaced.  It is central to the Mediterranean diet and consumed daily in Italy.  The key to keeping it healthy is twofold.  First, mind the portion size.  The quality of the preparation is much more important in Italy than the quantity consumed.  Secondly, keep the sauce healthy.  Italians prefer a simple tomato-based sauce or pasta served with olive oil, garlic, and fresh seasonal vegetables.  So, don’t worry so about counting carbs and do what the Italians do.  Sit down with family and friends and enjoy a hearty plate of pasta.

2.  Italian Cheese Is Always On The Dinner Table

Italian Food - Naples PizzaIt is almost impossible not to indulge in Italian cheeses, and I do not know that I want to resist the temptation.  There are hundred’s of varieties available, each one with its unique taste.  Some cheeses are soft and delicate, while others are aged and have an unmistakeable flavor.  Ultimately, cheese is like the fabric of Italian cuisine, woven into many traditional dishes.  For example, Parmigiano-Reggiano, the king of all cheeses, elevates the flavor of pasta carbonara.  Then there is mozzarella, the shining star of any Italian pizza.  Ricotta is the core of great cannelloni.  A classic Italian flavor profile is walnuts, pears, and gorgonzola.  Finally, sweet mascarpone is the key to the perfect tiramisu.  As you can see, cheese is the common thread in all courses of an Italian meal.

3. Dessert, The Sweeter Side Of Italy

Italian Food - Tartufo di PizzoItalians know a thing or two about making fabulous desserts.  Like savory dishes, desserts vary from region to region.  Although, some Italian sweet treats take the top bill and are a big hit internationally.  Don’t miss out on a rich, creamy Sicilian cannoli.  A perfect balance of texture and flavor, one is never enough.  The Venetian-born tiramisu is probably the most popular dessert amongst Italians.  Panna cotta is another simply delicious Italian dessert that originated in Piedmont and enjoyed around the world.  A lesser known but equally tasty treat is Tartufo di, Pizzo ice cream, with origins in Calabria.

In the end, pasta, cheese, and dessert are just a few things to love about Italian cuisine.  What is it that you love most about Italian food?  Leave a comment below.

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I am a proud third generation Italian American dedicated to promoting the richness of Italian cultural heritage.

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