Why italian food doesn’t really exist
Do you know why Sicilians tend to identify themselves first with Sicily, and only the second with Italy? Because of the food. The same goes for the inhabitants of Veneto in the north and Puglia in the south. Despite the fact that Italian restaurants open around the world, the inhabitants of the Apennines themselves reject the idea of a unified national cuisine. And it’s not just the little things. The basics of cooking such traditional dishes as pasta and pizza in different regions differ very well. So, somewhere pasta dough is made with an egg, somewhere without an egg, in some regions they add a lot of butter to dishes, in others they cook only on olive. Yes, even ordinary sauce can tell a lot about the history of the region, its landscape, and, of course, the people who live here.
Cheese and Egg Lamb
Sheep breeding flourishes in this mountainous region, so meat dishes are prepared mainly from lamb, and cheeses are made from sheep’s milk. Lamb with cheese and eggs is most often eaten on Easter, because sheep give birth to offspring in the spring. The sauce is made exclusively from fresh sheep’s cheese.
Lagan with chickpeas and olive oil
If you compare the cuisine of Basilicata and the northern regions, then it is distinguished by simplicity. Away from the sea coast, chickpeas are hardly used in cooking, and pasta, which is called “lagana” here, will be called “tagliatelle” or “papardelle”. And almost always they will be from durum wheat with the addition of eggs. In Basilicata, olive oil, garlic and chickpeas are simply added to homemade pasta – that’s all!
Pasta with pork, eggplant and ricotta
This specialty of the Calambrian chef Pasquale Pangallo is mentioned in the book “Cucina Regionale”, which is considered the bible of regional cuisine. It combines several classic elements that characterize the Italian south. So, eggplant appeared on the peninsula along with the Arabs who occupied the southern regions from the 9th to the 11th centuries. Calabrian jerky, usually a pork neck, is well seasoned with chili peppers, without which nothing is cooked in Calabria at all. Dried pressed sheep’s cheese gives the dish a salty taste.
In Campania, and especially in Naples, cooking is a story about carbohydrates, in particular from white flour. And the word “pizza” itself has completely different meanings, which depend on the time of year and region. Pizza can be called piquant Easter bread or pie with a filling, designed for one. Pizza Napoletana is usually cooked on a thick dough, baked in a wood oven. As a filling, thick tomato sauce and mozzarella are used. Plus a maximum of two ingredients.
5. Emilia Romagna
Tortellini with acacia flowers
Many pasta dishes that we consider classic Italian have their roots in the culinary arts of Bologna and the whole Emilia-Romagna region. Baked, layered lasagna was a festive Sunday meal for local families. Cappelletti and tortellini – these classic pasta types come from Modena and Reggio Emilia.
6. Friuli – Venice-Julia
Toast with spicy freeko cheese
Friuli has a mixed culinary culture, which is quite expected from the region at the junction of the Italian, Slavic and German worlds with a landscape where the sea is replaced by karst caves, and then the high Alps. In San Danielle, they make ham, which is considered to be from Friuli, as well as some wines that are recognized as the best in Italy. And frico cheese is closely connected with a place in the vicinity of Udine, where Montazio, the well-known semi-hard alpine cheese, is also produced. To make freeko, the cheese is heated, seasoned with sugar and cinnamon, and served either in cubes or on toasted bread. The dish is balanced due to spices, salt and moderate sweetness.
Young lamb with dried anchovies
Lazio is a region divided by mass tourism. Rome, its capital, receives millions of guests annually. The countryside lives on its own. Young lambs are raised here, therefore, one dish can characterize the kitchen – alla kachiatore. Chopped lamb is cooked in a pan with butter or lard and garlic, sage and rosemary, and then seasoned with salted anchovies. The piquant taste of the dish recalls the times when shepherds grazed their herds throughout the region and drove sheep even through the center of Rome.
8. Le Marche
Ankon spicy fish stew
Ancona’s classic dish, brodetto all’anconetana, reflects the city’s maritime heritage. This is a slightly spicy tomato soup, or even local fish stew. The dish was originally invented and prepared on board fishing boats. In ancient times, cooks used any marine animals that were not suitable for sale.