12 main dishes of Italian cuisine: what to try for a tourist

What is the secret of Italian cuisine

Traveling to Italy is impossible without familiarizing yourself with the country's gastronomic culture. We will tell you what dishes each tourist should pay attention to. We will advise you on what Italian products you can bring home to replicate the local culinary delights in your kitchen. A photo with a description of the 12 most popular Italian dishes will help you not to get lost in this huge gastronomic paradise.

Italian cuisine is so vast and beautiful that we decided to devote separate articles to wines, cheeses and desserts. If you share our love for gastronomic tourism, be sure to check them out.

Gnocchi | Gnocchi

Simple in composition, but incredibly tasty Italian dish. Gnocchi is made from flour and potatoes - these are the two main ingredients. In northern Italy, they like to add bread crumbs, sometimes spinach, to the dough. Delicious Italian dumplings are worth trying with one of the classic toppings - ricotta, grated cheese, tomato sauce, pesto, ghee, or even truffle gravy. Homemade gnocchi are considered the best. You can easily find them in Italian restaurants or eateries.

In supermarkets, you can buy gnocchi in the form of semi-finished products: frozen or dried. The latter option is an excellent gastronomic souvenir from Italy. Additionally, we advise you to take a jar of grated tomatoes or pesto sauce.

Minestrone | Minestrone

The most popular Italian soup is worth trying in every region of the country, as well as at different times of the year. There is no universal recipe for minestrone - even the set of vegetables is constantly changing, since it is prepared exclusively from seasonal products. Legumes are usually used as a base: chickpeas, beans or lentils, sometimes spaghetti or rice is added. Vegetables for the soup are stewed for a long time in olive oil. Usually these are onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, fennel. The broth is prepared separately: more often vegetable, less often - on the bone with the addition of pancetta. Vegetarians and all lovers of light but hearty soups are advised to try the vegetable minestrone in Italy.

Borlotti beans (or "roman beans"), spice mix and pesto can be brought from Italy to make the "right" minestrone at home.

Pasta | Pasta

Of course, you should definitely try pasta in Italy, but which one is another matter. The classification could be devoted to a separate article, but we advise you to navigate the menu for the additional ingredients that you like the most. The most popular Italian pasta options that are considered win-win are:

Traditions and customs of Italian cuisine begin their history from the time of Ancient Rome. The fame of the lavish meals of the Roman consul Lucius Lucullus has reached our days, and the expression "Lucullus feast" has become a household name - this is how we call a luxurious and exquisite dinner with many changes of dishes.

Of course, in modern Italy, whole-fried wild boars, pheasant brains, or nightingale's tongues pâté are not served on the table. But even today, the menu of Italians invariably contains those products that have made up their diet for centuries: olives and olive oil, many varieties of fish and seafood, a variety of fruits and vegetables, cheeses.

the main ingredients of Italian cuisine

Italian cuisine is considered one of the healthiest and healthiest in Europe. This is due to both the range of traditional products and the way food is prepared. The traditional Italian cooking methods maximize the preservation of nutrients and the natural flavor of the food.

Tastes differ in different regions of Italy

Italy is an amazing gastronomic country. The subtlety lies in the fact that each of its regions has its own unique characteristics, which are reflected in food preferences. For example, in Lombardy, specialties are saffron risotto and ossobuco, a braised veal shank with a marrow. In general, they eat a lot of freshwater fish from Lakes Como and Garda, as well as beef and pork.

The culinary symbol of Liguria is the spicy Pesto sauce, which is indispensable for neither pasta nor the famous minestrone soup. Another important component of the local cuisine is the so-called "blue fish": sardines, mackerel, anchovies.

The diet of Veneto is dominated by seafood, which is prepared in the most varied and original versions, but always accompanied by pasta and polenta. It is here that baccala (salted hake fillet) and deep-fried pumpkin flowers are popular.

Piedmont's cuisine can be called the most exquisite. Due to its particularly strong ties with France, the region indulges tourists with delicacies such as frog legs and truffles. Simpler food is also popular here, for example, half pette meatballs with different fillings.

Campaign is the birthplace of pizza. In Naples, two of its most famous varieties are made: "Margarita" and "Marinaru". Historically, the region has had excellent wheat yields, which of course has been reflected in the cuisine as well. Pasta is especially popular here: their signature Ziti (long and hollow), Paccheri (wide and short), Calamari (like rings).

It will take more than one hour to list all the culinary traditions and peculiarities of Italian cuisine by region - it is much more interesting to explore them on your own experience.

Antipasti first, then everything else

Traditionally, the meal begins with antipasti, which are the first item on the menu of any Italian restaurant. For example, antipasti cannot be imagined without traditional bruschetta, cheese slices, prosciutto or zucchini flowers in batter stuffed with anchovies and mozzarella.

Italy is a sunny Mediterranean country in southern Europe. For tourists, this country is very attractive, there is an unusual Venice, and the grandiose Colosseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa most popular for photographs and the fashionable capital of the world - Milan.

National cuisine

In addition to the mass of modern and historical buildings, Italy also attracts with its cuisine, which can be safely attributed to the most important attractions. Probably everyone has heard about such dishes as pizza, risotto and ravioli. Pizza has conquered the world so much that it is made today everywhere - from Africa to Latin America. But culinary Italy was able to keep some secrets, so the most delicious pizza can be found only here. Interestingly, at first, pizza was invented by the poor, who made the filling from everything that came at hand. Now it has become the dish that made Italian cuisine famous. Now there are many recipes with a wide variety of products in the composition.

Besides, the Mediterranean state is famous for its pasta. There are controversies in the history of this dish. Some believe that the famous Marco Polo brought the recipe for pasta from China, others say that pasta was on the table of Italians long before the discovery of the legendary traveler. Today, pasta is a variety of dough products of the most varied shapes and colors. There is even a patriotic version in the colors of the flag of Italy; restaurants also offer black pasta. The most important ingredient is the sauce, the preparation of which has become a real art. Nowadays, Italian cuisine has about 10 thousand different recipes for sauces that transform the taste of pasta from spicy to tender.

Italian lasagna also won the hearts and stomachs of gourmets. This is a kind of casserole with various types of fillings, wide layers of dough and tomato sauce.

One cannot but mention the legendary Italian cheeses, the most popular of which is grated parmesan. In order for the product to acquire the desired taste, it is kept in cellars for about two years. It can be found in all dishes, from pizza to pasta. Parmesan can stand for a long time without losing its unique taste. Mozzarella is often added to pizza and various salads. It is made from buffalo milk. There is also a dessert cheese - ricotta, which can be found even in ice cream.

You can only feel the real taste of Italian dishes with a glass of wine. It all depends on the region, the southern wines are sweet, and the northern ones have delicate taste. In addition to wine, in this sunny country there is another alcoholic drink, known all over the world - Amaretto. It is produced mainly in Verona, where the legendary Romeo and Juliet lived and loved. Italian masters say that the almond shade of the liqueur reminds of the tragic history of these two heroes.

Regional cuisine

Of course, this country is not as big as Russia or the United States, but even here the national cuisine of Italy depends on geography. In different cities, there are different recipes for the same dish, and sometimes the dishes are completely different. Restaurants in Italy are not difficult to find, they are in every city and even village, so it is better to pay attention to the peculiarities of each region:

  • Molise and Abruzzo. These two regions should be combined into one, because the cuisine in them is very similar. It is these parts of Italy that are famous for their smoked cheeses and meats. Good seafood is also available near the coast. There is also something to do here for spicy lovers. Peperoncino is grown in Abruzzo, a small chili that bakes as well as the traditional one;
  • Basilicata. This is a mountainous region of the country, therefore, agriculture is not developed here. Gourmets are offered hearty soups, various beef dishes and provolone cheese;
  • Calabria. This region is washed by the sea from almost all sides, so seafood is held in high esteem here. The most popular dishes are swordfish and tuna. For dessert, you can eat dishes with honey and almonds;
  • Campania. It is from this region that the world-famous pizza comes from. It is best to taste it here, in her homeland. Also in Naples, there are many pastry chefs who know a lot about desserts;
  • Emilia-Romagna. It is believed that the capital of this region, Bologna, is home to the best restaurants in the entire country. The main dish here is pasta. Dairy products are also popular. And if gastronomic tours to Italy fell on the New Year holidays, then you can try the traditional stuffed pig's leg;
  • Lazio. This region is a real paradise for ice cream lovers, there are many restaurants offering a variety of options for this dish. The region is also famous for its meat and veal delicacies;
  • Sicily. The legendary mafia backbone has absorbed many cultures into its cuisine. Various spices can be found in Sicily. She is famous for her pasta, seafood and desserts;

When to go?

The national dishes of Italy are very diverse, and gastronomic tours will be successful at any time of the year. But, it is important to remember that there are a lot of gastronomic festivals in Italy, with which you can associate your trip.

The traditional Naples pizza festival takes place in September. Alba beckons tourists and chefs from all over the world with the October Truffle Festival. Also worth a visit in October is Turin, which hosts a healthy food festival that attracts farmers from all over the world. Italy is always glad to tourists, especially if they are gourmets.

Cheese tourism is a popular destination that is gaining more and more gourmets from all over the world. In this article we will tell you what it is, what is its peculiarity, in which countries this type of gastronomic tourism is popular.

If you consider yourself a true connoisseur of cheese, then you should spend money on such a gastronomic trip to one of the European countries. Leading positions in the production of delicious varieties of cheese, which are known all over the world, belong to Italy, France, Switzerland, Holland, Germany.

The cheese tour program can be very different, but, as a rule, it is:

  • Excursion to private cheese dairies, to the production.
  • A visit to the basement where cheese ripens. In this case, you need to take a warm thing with you.
  • Workshops or cooking classes. You will not only taste the best varieties, but also learn how to cook interesting dishes.
  • Meeting with a "cheese sommelier", who will reveal the secrets of cheese, teach you to understand the intricacies of taste and combinations. After all, the correct combination of tastes is also an art.

Cheese trip to Italy

It's hard to imagine Italian cuisine without this ingredient. Cheese in this country is very fond of and knows how to cook. If you are going on such a tour for the first time, then we recommend Italy, you will have an indelible impression of such a gastronomic tour. Must try:

  • Don't miss the famous soft varieties: Mascarpone, Lombardy.
  • Fresh cheeses are also noteworthy: Mozzarella, Campania, Apulia, Burrata.
  • Pecorino is also worth trying - a special sheep cheese of various softness.
  • It is in Italy that you can taste the best varieties of real blue cheese: Gorgonzola, Lombardy.
  • The gastronomic menu will not be complete without hard and semi-hard varieties: Parmesan, Provolone, Lombardy.

An interesting point: in Italy there is such a profession as the "Parma listener", which determines whether the cheese is ready or not. This is done with a silver mallet, hitting the head of the cheese with it.

The best time for this is the beginning of autumn, as the International Cheese Festival takes place during this period. Organized in Bra (Piedmont). We advise you to go, adjusting to the festival, because this way you can taste the products of not only Italian cheese makers, but also varieties from other countries (20), as well as watch master classes and learn all the necessary subtleties.

We do not recommend that you try or buy Casu marzu, or rotten cheese (made in Sardinia), the cooking technology is too specific and not everyone will be able to appreciate its taste. In addition, we have prepared other tips for travelers who go on a cheese tour to Italy or other European countries:

  • When choosing cheese, pay attention to the labeling, the quality product passes the Authenticity Control or AOC.
  • If you want to bring an edible souvenir, choose hard varieties, for the transportation of soft cheese you need special storage conditions.
  • Some varieties have a very specific smell, of course, the taste does not deteriorate from this, but you need to take care of others and buy special vacuum packaging.
  • Before buying a certain amount of cheese, check the rules for exporting the product from the country (how much is allowed, are there any prohibited varieties that cannot be exported, and so on).

We hope your gastronomic trip to Italy will be informative and delicious!

Inexpensive mobile internet in Italy: what to connect?

In this article you will find information on food tours to Italy recommended by a private guide, as well as a short history of the development of cuisine in Italy. You will also find out why pizza and Italian pasta are not the only dishes locals and tourists love to feast on. Wine and food tours to Italy are an alternative way to travel and get to know this beautiful country from all points of view.

In addition to the natural beauty of this country, art, history, Italy has one of the oldest and most incorruptible culinary traditions, one of those aspects that you can appreciate thanks to your private guide on a gastronomic journey.

It is not for nothing that Italian cuisine is considered one of the best in the world. The cuisine in Italy, its flavors and ingredients, is characterized by regional differences, where healthy and original products are grown.

This variety of products is a consequence of the migration of numerous peoples throughout history on this peninsula, and also due to the fact that Italy has some of the most important seaports, such as Venice, which has been engaged in commerce throughout history. , and to this day continues to engage in this activity.

All this allowed the introduction of new elements and new dishes, which are still highly regarded all over the world. Italy is considered the cradle of Western cuisine, as it was a kind of front stage during two major episodes of world history: the reign of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance. The gastronomic heritage is one expression of the richness of culture and history, which you can appreciate thanks to your travel guide.

All this you can taste and see with your own eyes, having made a gastronomic trip to Italy, appreciate those dishes that are very different from each other depending on the regions and cities. Like all other aspects of history, Italian cuisine also continues to evolve.

Tours to Italy: the history of Italian cuisine

Since the era of the reign of the Roman Empire, cosmopolitanism has occupied a special place even when it comes to cuisine. From the farthest corners to the areas closest to the center, the exchange of goods and spices continued throughout the Empire.

Subsequently, the gastronomic culture in southern Italy was subjected to changes due to the great influence of Arab culture, especially since the 9th century. Sicily has become a culinary laboratory of sorts, where local products have been successfully combined with products from Central Asia.

For example, one of the best dishes from the Sicilian tradition is the Sardi pasta. It was invented by a brilliant Arabian chef. And it was in the combination of these two cultures that even the Sicilian confectionery itself reached its peak.

With the discovery of America, new products, hitherto unknown throughout the continent, began to be brought to Europe. Coffee, cocoa, corn, beans, potatoes and tomatoes began to be brought from America.

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