Though we’ve all had pasta and pizza, we haven’t all sampled Italian cuisine as it was intended. After all, Italian food is so much more than a bowl of cheesy pasta or a takeaway pizza. Don’t forget, as well as satisfying dishes there’s delicious vegetables, drizzles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressings to enjoy.
What Makes Italian Cuisine So Special?
Traditional Italian food is largely centred around home cooking and spending time as a family; instead of sitting down for a quick bite to eat and rushing off, Italians tend to use mealtimes as a way to socialise and bond with others. This means that a lot of care, time and effort goes into creating perfect meals.
Traditional products play a large part in Italian cuisine, with chefs and cooks usually choosing to use local products wherever possible. This interest in local and seasonal products goes a long way towards highlighting just how important taste and quality is within the Italian culture.
Understanding an Italian Menu
One of the greatest things about Italian cuisine is the menu. Rather than simply offering a starter, main and dessert as we are used to in most cultures, in Italy there’s a number of other courses to enjoy. Almost all Italian menus will span five or six courses, with coffee and drinks being included as a vital part of the meal. A traditional Italian menu usually consists of:
- Antipasto: A variety of hot and cold appetizers, similar to a starter.
- Primo: The first of two main meals. The Primo portion of the meal usually consists of carbohydrates, such as a plate of pasta, risotto or a soup dish.
- Secondo: The second of two main meals. The Secondo portion of the meal usually includes fish, seafood or meat. Sometimes the Secondo is served with a side of salad, vegetables or potatoes.
- Dolce: The dessert. Popular desserts in Italy include gelato, tiramisu and panna cotta.
- Caffe: A variety of coffees are usually on offer.
- Digestivi: Liquor is served as a way to help with digestion. Different regions in Italy have different liquors and so this portion will vary depending on where you are.
When it comes to Italian cuisine, there’s less of an emphasis on ensuring a healthy meal is served and more of a focus on serving tasty food. This means that Italian food is satisfying, filling and tastes great.