Culinary Basics: Italian Cuisine

Italian cuisine is one of the world's most popular.

By Holly Holloway
Credit: Magdus / Pixabay

Italian cuisine is one of the world’s most popular. In a YouGov poll in 2019, people in the United States voted Italian cuisine as their favorite from around the world, topping both Mexican and Chinese cuisines. 

The popularity of Italian cuisine is no surprise because pizza and pasta get eaten almost everywhere internationally. Yet, Italian food is far more. Whether it’s the golden crisp stuffed rice balls of arancini or saltimbocca’s butter sautéed folded layers of veal and herb leaves, it’s all delicious whatever your taste buds.

Amazingly Italian cuisine can be traced back to the 4th century BC, before Italy was even a country. That long-lived history, along with centuries where Italy dominated neighbouring regions, explored the world, and produced countless famous chefs, has given the Italian cuisine time to be perfected. 

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Typically Italian

Another reason Italian food is so delicious is that authentic dishes are made from the most flavorful ingredients, including the use of garlic, tomatoes, olive oil, basil, rosemary, and more. Most recipes rely on only a few ingredients, focusing on perfecting simplicity, with chefs preferring quality ingredients over complex preparations.

Meals in Italy often begin with antipasti, a big plate of cheese, bell peppers, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, and other delicious vegetables. In addition, cured meats like prosciutto and salami will be part of the plate. Meals will often continue with a pasta dish and then a meat or fish main before ending with delicious gelato, tiramisu, and coffees. 

Two of the staples in any Italian restaurant are olive oil and garlic. Between the two, chefs can fry, drizzle and give that famous flavor. Beyond that, green vegetables, balsamic vinegar, and parmesan are must-haves. 

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Traditional Italian Cuisine

Ossu buco alla Milanese: Veal shanks cooked slowly in white wine and served with vegetables and gremolata, a condiment made from lemon zest, garlic and parsley. 

Ribollita: A bread stew made with vegetables including cabbage, beans and kale. It’s considered one of Tuscanny’s most important dishes and is translated to mean reboiled. Ribollita was once considered the food of the poor. 

Bottarga: An Italian delicacy known as the Sicilian Caviar. Bottarga is a salted cured fish roe, coming from bluefin tuna which is found around the Mediterranean. It’s served thinly sliced with lemon juice and olive oil. In Italy, bottarga is as sought after as truffles.

The Mediterranean consists of Italy, Spain, France, Greece, Turkey, and other countries. Each of whom have very iconic cuisines. 

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