After reading the book “Eat Pray Love”, I was most fascinated about the “Eat” part. Italy is where all the food dreams come true. It is here that you can gorge on platters of cheese and gulp wine without a care in the world. No trip to Italy is complete without devouring your whole weight in delicious grub – especially when it’s so tasty. If you want to experience Italy, then you need to eat like Italians. Here are some of the most amazing food to try:
Let’s start with the one item we all reach out for in any scenario; be it birthday celebrations or midnight hunger pangs. And what’s better than to try our favourite in the land where it was originated. Originally called pizza Margherita, Neapolitan pizza is dough covered in San Marzano tomatoes, olive oil, basil, and mozzarella di Bufala Campana. The name Margherita was given after Queen Margherita who came to Naples on a tour and asked to try this dish that she saw so many of her subjects eating. Yes, pizza was initially a peasant dish.
Neapolitan-style pizza has a thick, fluffy crust. It tends to be a little smaller in diameter because the dough hasn’t been rolled out as far and it’s more filling. Interestingly, the colours on the pizza echoes the ones on the Italian flag. So drop all the toppings (In Italy the lesser the topping the better the pizza) and relish the delicious slices in the bustling city of Naples.
Spaghetti Alla Carbonara
You will always be asking for pasta in Italy. The country is overflowing with countless options but if someone tells you that you can have only one pasta meal (how cruel) than the simple Spaghetti Alla Carbonara is what you should order. Spaghetti carbonara is made with spaghetti noodles, egg, Parmigiano cheese, and bacon (or guanciale). This is a Roman specialty and the best joint to grab a plate is to go where the locals go. And if you love pasta a little too much, then you should leran how to make it too.
Risotto Alla Milanese
In central northern Italy, on the plains of the Po river, pasta often takes second place to rice, usually in the shape of risotto, and in the case of Milan, as Risotto Alla Milanese, whose beauty lies in its golden colour and delicate, saffron-infused flavour. While southern Italy is often called the country’s bread basket, Northern Italy, especially Lombardy and Piedmont, are its rice bowl. It’s fitting then, that the Arborio and Carneroli varieties grown in the vast rice paddies of these regions are turned into one of Italy’s most iconic dishes by being mixed with stock and stirred until they form a velvety semi-soup that perfectly conveys the flavors of anything cooked with it. The most famous type of risotto is probably the saffron-infused Risotto Alla Milanese, which was invented, according to legend, by the workmen building the Milan Cathedral who were using saffron to dye the stained glass windows and figured they would also throw it into their rice. Work up an appetite and eat like the Italians – slow and with lots of wine!
Another Milan specialty, Ossobuco is Italian for “bone with a hole”. Cross-cut veal shanks are braised with vegetables, wine, and broth, and then served with risotto. It is topped with a gremolata—a seasoning mixture, of lemon zest, garlic, and parsley. Anchovies can be added, too. This dish requires a lot of patience and time as its cooked low and slow. One more reason why you should not pass on the opportunity to try Ossobuco if it is ever presented before you.
Lasagna is a wide, flat pasta noodle, usually baked in layers in the oven. Like most Italian dishes, its origins are hotly contested, but we can at least say that’s its stronghold is in the region of Emilia-Romagna, where it transformed from a poor man’s food to a rich meal filled with the ragù, or meat sauce. Traditionally lasagna wasn’t made with tomatoes; only ragù, béchamel sauce, and cheese. Even today, only a bit of tomato or tomato sauce is used in a traditional ragu, unlike most Italian-American dishes, which are basically swimming in tomato sauce. Though you can find lasagna throughout all of Italy, there’s nothing like trying the hearty dish in Emilia Romagna with homemade noodles, fresh ragù, and a generous dollop of regional pride.
Bistecca alla Fiorentina
If you think one kilogram of steak is too much, then you’ve come to the wrong place, my friend. Bistecca alla Fiorentina or Florentine T-bone steak from Tuscany is an Italian steak that is typically from Chianina cattle — an ancient Tuscan breed known for its prized and tasty meat seasoned with local spices, and grilled over red-hot coals. And as mentioned, it is are served huge and rare. This is a dish to be eaten exclusively in Tuscany, either in Florence or the countryside. It’s also meant to be shared! When ordering, remember that Bistecca alla Fiorentina is priced by weight. These whopping lumps of cow can be divided among several diners, or devoured by one hardy soul.
Truffles are an expensive little treat, to say the least! These prized fungi are known across the world for their fragrant smells, taste and high prices, with bigger truffles selling for the price of a car! If you are trying truffles for the first time we suggest starting off with a fresh pasta covered in thin truffle shavings, but there are plenty of other options to choose from! Truffles are commonly sprinkled over pasta, risotto, and omelets, or used in sauces for steaks or other meat dishes. Truffles grow naturally throughout Umbria, Tuscany and Piedmont, so you’re more likely to find fresh truffles in local dishes in these areas, but only if you go in the autumn. During any other time of the year the truffles you get will be imported or frozen and they won’t be anywhere near as good. If you make it into truffle country during the fall head to a sagra festival such as the famous International White Truffle Festival of Alba in Piedmont held every October and November.
You can’t go to Rome and not eat Gelato. Though gelato translates to ‘ice cream,’ it’s not quite the same. Gelato has a much higher density. Regular ice cream has air and water added to increase volume and weight. Unfortunately, these additions also make it less flavorful. This practice is illegal in Italy, leaving gelato super sweet and super flavorful. Finally, good gelato isn’t made for long-term storage. A scoop or two a day will keep your cravings at bay!
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