The History of Pizza in Italian Food

The History of Pizza in Italian Food

Italian food is unique amongst world cuisines in that it has birthed not one, but two international sensations. Of course I’m talking about pasta and pizza. Pizza is one of the most widely eaten foods today. While most people think of pizza in America as Italian food, it really is not like the pizza of authentic Italian food. It is said that with one taste of pizza made in the style of authentic Italian food, you will never go back to the Americanized version. Even when eating at Italian food restaurants it is hard to capture the distinguished taste of true Italian pizza.

Pizza is one Italian food that has been around in one form or another for centuries. It has a long history in the Mediterranean where it began as a seasoned flatbread that was used more as an edible plate to hold other food, rather than as a food by itself. However, these earlier pizzas established a name for Italian food very early on and were eaten in Greece, Rome, Egypt, and Babylon and were emphatically praised by many historians of the day.

It was in the Middle Ages that pizza began to take a form that would be more familiar to Italian food lovers today. Pizza started out being just a dough topped with herbs and olive oil. Once mozzarella cheese began to be produced from Indian Water Buffalo it quickly became a signature aspect of pizza. Today at any true Italian food eatery this fresh mozzarella di buffalo is nonnegotiable. The dried shredded mozzarella that is often associated with Italian food would actually never be used on a pizza made by a true Italian food chef.

It wouldn’t be until the tomato became popular in Italian food in the 18th century that we would see modern pizza. During this time pizza began to take an even more prominent role in Italian food. In Naples pizza was sold on the streets for every meal. This once peasant food was quickly taking hold of all of society, including the upper class. In fact, by 1830 the first ever pizzeria was opened in Naples. Ever since this time pizzerias have been found all over the world converting people to the love of Italian food.

Traditional Italian pizza is cooked in a wood fired oven. The reason American pizza is often not thought of as a true Italian food is because the large restaurant chains that specialize in pizza do not cook it in a wood fired oven. Pizzas featured in Italian food restaurants should use only the freshest ingredients. In Italy pizzas change with the seasons as new ingredients become available. The great thing about pizza that has made it so popular is the fact that it can be topped with a vast array of toppings. Each region of Italy has its own particular style of pizza that they specialize in, making use of the ingredients most readily available to them.

So for real Italian food pizza it is necessary to step out of the confining ideas of just a few types of pizza and open your mind to the different possibilities. Italian food is full of variety and you could literally spend a year in Italy just trying all the different styles of pizza that made Italian food so universally popular.

Tiramisu The Italian Food Dessert

Tiramisu – The Italian Food Dessert

Today Tiramisu is the most popular of Italian food desserts. It graces the menu of nearly every Italian food restaurant. However, its rise to fame has been meteoric; it wasn’t even invented until the 1970’s in the Veneto region of Italy. It didn’t even gain widespread popularity until the early 1990’s. It is a unique blend of ingredients that separately seem to not go together at all. However, when correctly blended together they form one of the treasures of Italian food.

The first ingredient is Mascarpone cheese. This cheese has very deep roots in Italian food. It was made as far back as the 13th century in the region of Lombardy. This cheese is concentrated milk cream and has a very high fat content, getting up to seventy-five percent. It is a smooth and creamy cheese. Traditionally it has been considered to be more of a winter dish and therefore shows up in more of the seasonal Italian food dishes. This is mainly because of its high calories and the fact that when it was first produced there was no refrigeration and this delicate cheese does not keep well in hot temperatures. Like many other Italian foods, the best Mascarpone cheese comes directly from Italy. However, it you’re an Italian food lover making Tiramisu at home, there are plenty of makers of Mascarpone cheese in America.

The next ingredient is Zabaglione cream. This is a true classic Italian food dessert. It hails from the world renowned kitchens of Venice. When it originally became a popular Italian food dessert it was made with yolks, honey, and a sweet Cyprus wine. However, today the cream has taken on a new flavor. To begin with sugar is substituted for the original honey. The most stated difference in taste though, comes from the use of Marsala wine instead of the sweet Cyprus wine. This cream can be made from home and is easier to make than most Italian food chefs let on.

The third ingredient is the most distinctive factor of Tiramisu, espresso. This shot of caffeine is where the dessert gets its name, which means “pick me up”. This is a coffee that is true to Italian food and is much stronger than American coffee. Espresso is the most important coffee in Italian food and can be seen following many Italian meals.

The fourth and final ingredient is Ladyfingers. These popular cookies originated in Italy and have made numerous appearances in not only Italian food, but in many other national cuisines. These cookies are remarkably light due to the fact that the dough with which they are made is rich with whipped egg white. They are immensely popular and one of the most appreciated Italian food desserts in Italy.

These four ingredients blended together just right and topped off with chocolate make an Italian food dessert that is as popular as the individual ingredients. Make sure when you prepare this at home that you take great care in choosing the ingredients, it will really make a difference in the quality of Tiramisu. Now that you know the correct quality and the origin of the ingredients you will surely impress your friends with you Italian food knowledge.

The Italian Food Diet

The Italian Food Diet

It seems recently that among health circles Italian food has gotten a bad rep. With the advent of Atkins many former Italian food fans have steered clear of the cuisine because of all the pasta that is used. However, this idea that pasta will make you fat is largely unfounded. A diet of Italian food, especially from the Mediterranean is actually very healthy and will keep you looking and feeling great as long as you know what Italian food to eat and how to prepare it.

A great example of the fact that Italian food will not make you fat is in Sophia Loren. She told the world in her book that she grew up on spaghetti and ate it constantly. She says that it is not the pasta that makes you fat; it’s what you put on top of it. People who gain weight eating Italian food typically do so not because of the pasta, but because of creamy sauces like Alfredo sauce and because they eat in too large portions. Italian food from the Mediterranean doesn’t rely on rich, thick sauces and uses olive oil instead of butter, making it very healthy.

It all starts with the ingredients you keep. For good, healthy Italian food you want to make sure you stock the kitchen with quality pasta, olive oil, garlic, onions, lean meat, fish, and seafood. For seasoning you will want some herbs like basil, oregano, and parsley. You’ll want to stay away from a lot of cheese and perhaps only get a little parmesan cheese to top your favorite Italian food dishes. The creamy and cheesy Italian food dishes are the ones you’re going to want to stay away from to keep a healthy diet.

There are several different light Italian food meals that you can prepare with these simple ingredients. Here is one to start you off, an Italian food classic, pasta with tomato sauce. You can use any type of pasta you want and you might want to try livening it up with variety. Italian food is not just spaghetti noodles. Boil the pasta in water with salt. Make sure not to overcook the pasta. You want it to be firm, yet tender. The most common mistake made in making Italian food is making mushy pasta. For the sauce simply chop up some garlic, an onion, and some tomatoes. Take a tablespoon of your quality olive oil and sauté both the garlic and onions until they are soft. Once that is done add the tomatoes and cook until all the ingredients are blended together well. To top it off add your favorite herbs such as parsley, oregano, or basil. Try different combinations of herbs, there is no definitive herbs for Italian food so experiment and give your sauce your own signature flavor.

Serve this sauce over your hot pasta and if you want put a little sprinkle of parmesan on it. This is a simple Italian food dish that stands on its own and you won’t need to eat bread or anything else with it. This is a great example of how healthy Italian food is supposed to be, light and fresh.

Feel free to try different variations on this recipe. Italian food is full of a variety of pastas and recipes that can keep you satisfied and healthy as long as you stay away from the heavy sauces and creams.

The Italian Food of Trentino Alto Adige

The Italian Food of Trentino-Alto Adige

Italian food has a rich history. It draws on the influences of many different cultures and time periods. It is a great melting pot of different ideas all brought together by a distinctly Italian flavor that makes it Italian food, the most sought after cuisine in the world. The region of Trentino-Alto Adige is a great example of how history has affected and influenced Italian food.

Prior to 1550 the food in this region was known for its simplicity. Food was simply meant for sustenance and a distinct regional flavor had yet to emerge. However, that all changed in 1550. That is the time of the Council of Trent. The Council of Trent was an Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church. The council was held in response to the growing Protestant Reformation in an effort to counter it. It is hard to imagine that such a religious and political event would have any affect whatsoever on the local Italian food. However, when all of these high ranking church officials came to the area, they brought with themselves a taste for fine food. It is this event that first taught the region to appreciate the art of fine cooking. This is a great example of how history has shaped the current state of Italian food.

The cuisine here was also influenced by the Republic of Venice and the Habsburg Empire. Other influences include that of the Slav, Austrian, and Hungarian cuisines. It’s hard to imagine now that Italian food was shaped by these cuisines that many people think of as distinctly different than Italian food. This region is known for its use of fresh water fish in contrast to much of the rest of the country that uses salt water fish in much of their cuisine. It’s also interesting to note that despite the foreign influences, it is this area that most popularizes the dishes that are traditionally thought of as Italian food such as pasta, tomatoes, and olive oil. However, in addition to these commonly thought of Italian food dishes is a host of other foods such as potatoes, dumplings, and sauerkraut made from scratch. Goulash is the most commonly served Sunday meal.

Health conscious travelers should also note that lard is still a very popular ingredient in the area. Those concerned with saturated fat should be sure to enquire about the ingredients of the Italian food they are enjoying in this region. But it is important to note that many chefs find that lard is the best ingredient for certain situations and the Italian food chefs in this region certainly feel that way.

There are some specific dishes that are unique to this region. One is potato dumplings with ricotta. You might not think of dumplings when thinking of Italian food, but they are quite common to the area. They even have canederli, a specific dumpling unique to the area that is made with leftover bread. This region also boasts its own regional sauerkraut as well as a stuffed chicken dish.

This region of Italy is a great example of how external forces have shaped Italian food. The style of cuisine here is an excellent blend of the popular Italian food and the unique authentic flavors of regional Italian food.

Tuscan Italian Food

Tuscan Italian Food

Tuscany is one of the most well known regions in Italy. Many Italian food lovers find some of their favorite dishes in Tuscany. People love the simplicity of Tuscan Italian food and the region has its own very distinct style of cuisine.

One appeal of Tuscan Italian food is that it is generally healthy. This is due in large part to its use of olive oil. There are many different varieties of olives that are grown in the area and used extensively in the cooking. Beans are also widely used as are vegetables, seasonal fruits, and mushrooms. Of course the area also has the cheeses that are a signature of Italian food. In October and November the people are up for a real treat because this is when the famous white truffles of the area appear. Contrasting this lighter side of the Italian food is the extensive use of meat in Tuscany. High quality beef can be found in the region.

There is even a specific breed used for the famous t-bone steaks that are known as Florentine steak. Pork is also used a source of protein in the Tuscan Italian food. One of the reasons for their famed use of meat has historical roots. When the country started relying heavily on polenta and other corn products, many people began dying due to malnutrition. It was discovered that the thousands of deaths were tied to a lack of protein and other nutrients. Since that time the Italians have taken care to add more variety to their diet than just pasta.

Tuscany has perhaps more unique Italian food dishes than any other region. Some popular dishes include fresh vegetables either raw or slightly cooked and served with olive oil that is seasoned for dipping. Tuscany is also known for a reheated vegetable soup dish. The meat dishes that are most unique to the area include Tuscan-style veal shank and T-bone steak. The Italian food that features pork in the area includes creamed bacon and a complicated dish of pig’s liver stuffed into a pig’s stomach and then slowly baked with stock and red wine.

The real Italian food gem in Tuscany is not just the unique entrees, but the unique breads. There are specific breads for specific holidays and seasons in Tuscany. On Good Friday bread that is baked on a bed of chestnut leaves is served. They also have breads made from maize, fried in olive oil, made with sweet chestnut flour with rosemary leaves, breads made from a mixture of different flours; the list goes on and on. Usually Italian food makes one think of all the different forms of pasta, but in Tuscany the Italian food of variety is the bread. On Easter Sunday special bread that is made with raisins, saffron, and other spices is consecrated in church before being served. It has a high fat content and is served with eggs. There are also sweet rolls that are eaten on the St. Anthony feast day. Who knew that Italian food included so many different breads? Just as there are many different cheeses in Italian food, there are just as many Italian food breads to serve with them.

Tuscany is a treasure trove of Italian food. Try eating at a Tuscan inspired Italian food restaurant, or make sure to visit Tuscany while in Italy to try all the different unique Italian food dishes that they have to share.

Risotto and the Veneto Region Italian Food

Risotto and the Veneto Region Italian Food

With so many different Italian food dishes it is hard to pick a favorite. However, for those who like risotto, Veneto is the region for you! Italian food varies greatly by region with each area presenting their own unique dishes and flavors. One of the most recognized Italian food dishes is Risotto and because of that Veneto is a must stop region for those travelers in Italy wanting to taste some excellent Italian food.

Risotto is most simply a rice dish cooked very precisely. It is one of the most commonly ordered appetizers at Italian food restaurants. Yet for its amazing popularity, it is also one of the most common Italian food dishes to be botched. The key to a good risotto is to first cook the rice briefly in olive oil or butter. It should be cooked until it is evenly coated and begins to turn translucent. After that, broth is added to the rice slowly, one spoonful at a time. The most defining quality of a risotto is that the rice is toasted. If the rice isn’t toasted than it’s not a risotto, no matter how fine the Italian food restaurant is that you’re in.

There are many different variations on risotto because it can be made and served with so many different Italian food favorites. In Veneto the ingredients added to the risotto are determined by location. For instance, in areas closer to the coast it will be made with fish and other seafood. As you move in from the coast you will see risotto made with different vegetables like pumpkin, asparagus, and radicchio. It is also commonly seen made with frogs’ legs which appear in Italian food more than most people think.

The Veneto region is also home to some unique foods. The dishes here are heavier and rely on exotic spices and sauces. One unique dish that originated here and is quickly gaining popularity as an Italian food dish is pasta and beans. Beans are used in many dishes here due to their ready availability. This is also an area of Italy where anchovies and stockfish are used extensively in Italian food. However, fish is not the dish of choice here, being beaten out by meats and sausages. A favorite meat is sopressata which is a dry-cured salami. It gets its name from the fact that while drying it is often pressed with a weight and comes out looking flat. It is most often made with pork, but sometimes beef is used. Another favorite Italian food meat is garlic salami. The Italian food here is also reliant on some of the prized vegetables of the area. Veneto is especially known for their high quality red radicchio and their asparagus. One last dish that is unique to the area is a rice dish with young peas.

The Italian food of Veneto clearly breaks the mold. It is full of diversity from dishes made wholly with vegetables and rice, to some of the most famous sausages in the world. If a night of Italian food for you must include risotto, than Veneto is the place to be. If you consider yourself a sausage connoisseur than the Italian food of Veneto will again be a must taste for you. The region truly offers something for everyone!

Learn to Make Italian Food

Learn to Make Italian Food

Italian food has long been amongst the most popular food in the world. Everyday people all over the world sit down to meals of fresh Italian food that tastes so good it’s hard to imagine making it yourself. However, there are some people who are up to the challenge of learning to make quality Italian food. For some it is not just enough to enjoy Italian food, they need to create Italian food. There are many options today for learning to cook Italian food. Some people live in areas where there are no Italian food cooking classes. Others may feel too self conscious in order to go to an Italian food class. But there is an option for everyone that wants to learn to cook Italian food whether they want to become a world class chef or if they just want to not be intimidated by a pot of boiling water and a handful of spaghetti. The great thing about Italian food is that it has great dishes that are simple to make for the beginner and complex dishes that take world class chefs years to master. There really is something for everyone.

The first option to learn to cook Italian food is cooking classes or cooking school. If you want to become a professional Italian food chef then you will want to attend an accredited cooking school. There are many different culinary institutes in the United States and around the world that can help you specialize in Italian food. Research the different options and decide which will be best for you and will help you meet your goals. Some things to consider are tuition and location. You can attend school abroad or in your local area. If you want to start work right away after graduation at an Italian food restaurant, then see what kind of help the different schools give in job placement after graduation.

Going to school to become a professional Italian food chef is very challenging but in the end it is extremely rewarding to know that you can craft some of the finest Italian food in the world. For those not wanting to necessarily become professionals, you can look into local cooking schools or community centers that offer lessons in cooking Italian food. You can learn to make specific regional Italian food or just take a few classes to teach you how to cook a meal for a special occasion to impress friends or family.

Another great option in today’s world is to learn how to cook Italian food right from home. Today it is possible to take classes in cooking Italian food off of the internet. This is a great option for people who are self conscious or like to take things at their own speed in a comfortable environment. There are both paid and free cooking classes online that can help you with your Italian food skills. Research the different programs available and see what is right for you. Be sure to also check out reviews of online programs and see if previous students feel that they really learned how to cook Italian food from the course.

You can never be too careful online, but once you find a school that you like that has good reviews, don’t hesitate to jump right in. Before long you’ll cooking up fabulous Italian food dishes that previously seemed impossible.

Regional Italian Food

Regional Italian Food

When most people think of Italian food they think of dishes of spaghetti, lasagna, minestrone, and tortellini. This is a very general view of Italian food and if you were to travel to Italy you would be very shocked by the Italian food that they eat. The main reason for this is that there are over nineteen regions in Italy, all serving up their own variation on Italian food. Furthermore, Italian food is very seasonal and depends on the freshest ingredients, so the cuisine in summer will be very different than the winter cuisine.

The Italian food that most Americans are familiar with comes from the northern parts of Italy. This is where the rich dishes full of cheese and heavy on the sauce come from. The meats that are most commonly used here are beef and pork. If you love the Italian food that you can find in America, than the northern region of Italy is the place for you. This food will be most familiar, but it will still offer an exciting change from the Italian food found in the United States. Also, don’t let the stereotypical view of Italian food just being spaghetti and meatballs slow you down. In fact, very few people in Italy actually eat spaghetti and meatballs. The Italian food that is actually found in Italy is much more complex and diverse and will rely on more spices than just garlic.

As you move further south in Italy you will find that the cuisine changes. In the south there is more fish used. Often this brand of Italian food is called Mediterranean food. The dishes here are much lighter and are healthier in general. The people in the southern half of Italy are amongst the healthiest in the world and it is due in great part to the types of Italian food that they eat. One of the reasons this Italian food is so healthy is because they use olive oil to cook most of their food in.

One of the great misconceptions about Italian food is that it uses too many spices in overwhelming quantities. This misconception probably arises out the importation of Italian food to America where it is often cooked by people who have never been to Italy, much less eaten authentic Italian food. While spices are used in Italian food, they are meant to be an accent to the natural flavor of the dish. The fact that Italian food is seasonal makes it less likely to rely on heavy spices since there is a strong fresh flavor about the meats, sauces, and pastas. However, travelers will find that the food in the northern regions of Italy do use a little more spice in their Italian food than the southern regions.

So, when thinking of Italian food it is important to remember that there is no national standard of the cuisine. With nineteen regions there is a vast diversity in dishes. Each region boasts their own unique take on Italian food, showcasing their native crops and livestock. However, all throughout the country travelers will taste that certain something; will feel that comforting familiarity; that makes Italian food one of the most popular cuisines in the world.

Popular Italian Food

Popular Italian Food

When people think of popular Italian food they most likely think of spaghetti, lasagna, or tortellini. However, the popular Italian food in Italy is actually a little different and much more diverse.

A very popular Italian dish is the minestrone soup. This soup makes excellent use of one of the most popular ingredients in Italian food, beans. Beans are widely used in Italian food and are the feature ingredient in many soups, not just the minestrone. Along with beans are nuts as another popular ingredient. The main nut preferred for Italian food is the pine nut. This nut is used to not only accent pasta dishes, but also as a main ingredient in popular desserts. But, the most common and popular use of the nuts is in pesto sauce. Nothing says Italian food like a good pesto sauce.

Another popular Italian food ingredient is rice. By far the most popular use for this ingredient is in the signature Italian food dish of risotto. Here rice is mixed with broth, vegetables and spices to make a very unique and flavorful dish. Risotto is widely known as the most popular appetizer in Italian food and different regions take great pride in their individual risottos. Rice is also used in many different soups and stews throughout Italy.

The most ubiquitous of all popular Italian food ingredients is olive oil. The best olive oil is known as extra virgin olive oil and many Italian food chefs rely strictly on extra virgin olive oil. The difference between extra virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil is the acidity. In order to be classified as extra virgin the olive oil must not contain more than one percent acidity. Virgin olive oil on the other hand cannot have more than two percent acidity. Extra virgin olive oil is by far the most popular in Italian food where it is used not only to cook food in, but also as a dressing for salad and a dipping option for bread.

When discussing popular Italian food it is essential to talk about the most popular breads and pastries. Breads serve an important role in Italian food. They can be used as appetizers, sides to a meal, and desserts. The most popular breads are flavored with herbs, cheeses, and sun-dried tomatoes. An excellent dessert bread in Italian food is the biscotti which means “twice baked”. This popular dessert is more like a biscuit or cookie and is often flavored with almonds and spices. Fruit can be added to the biscotti and a popular choice is cherries. Biscotti are very versatile in Italian food, being served for breakfast with coffee or as an after dinner treat.

There is much more to Italian food than just pasta and sauce. Italian food is a cuisine of diversity. When traveling in Italy it is often amusing to see the stark difference between what Italian food is popular in America and what Italian food is popular in Italy. If you want to try some different Italian food you certainly can’t go wrong with these time tested favorites.

Making Italian Food With Pasta

Making Italian Food With Pasta

For many Italian food lovers and aspiring Italian food chefs, the first dish to be attempted from home is typically a pasta dish. Pasta is known as an Italian food that is easy to make. However, homemade Italian food dishes with pasta often end up falling flat. Here are a few things to keep in mind when preparing pasta at home.

First of all, your attempt at Italian food will only be as good as the pasta you use to make it with. When shopping for your pasta make sure you are buying a good brand that uses only quality ingredients. For instance, if buying dried pasta you should only buy brands that use just semolina flour. Any other type of dried pasta will taste like counterfeit Italian food. A good quality pasta will have a rough surface. The texture of the pasta will determine if it will be able to hold onto the sauce that it is served with. Smooth pasta is an instant indicator that you are dealing with an inferior brand. It is also important that the pasta be dense and heavy for its size.

If the pasta is too light it will fall apart when it is cooked. You want to make sure to avoid the mass produced and cheap pasta; otherwise your Italian food will not be satisfying. When shopping for fresh pasta you want to make sure that you pay attention to the expiration date, unlike dried pasta, fresh pasta does not have a long shelf life. Take a look at the pasta and if it looks cheap then it is. If it looks to have a good quality color and texture and is heavy, then that is the pasta that will give you the best tasting Italian food. The best bet when shopping for pasta is to see if there is a bakery that specializes in Italian food. Many such bakeries make pasta fresh daily and the quality will far out do anything that you will find at the store. The best way to get authentic Italian food is to get it from Italians.

Once you have bought your pasta you are halfway to enjoying good Italian food. The most important thing to remember when cooking pasta is to not overcook it. Mushy pasta is never good. For good tasting Italian food you want the pasta to be tender, yet firm to the teeth. Fresh pasta will take less time to cook than dried pasta. You want to make sure and use a large pot with an abundance of water. Bring the water to a boil and then liberally add salt. If you don’t salt the water then the pasta will taste bland compared to the sauce it is served with. After you’ve salted the water it is time to add the pasta. If you have plenty of water that is brought to a vigorous boil before adding the pasta then you shouldn’t have problems with the pasta sticking and it should cook evenly. Good Italian food sauce makes use of the water that was used to boil the pasta, so make sure to save a cup of it to add to the sauce. Also, don’t ever rinse the pasta after you’ve cooked it, otherwise you will be stripping away the flavor of your Italian food.

Hopefully these tips will help you make better Italian food. If you haven’t tried preparing Italian food yourself then give it a try starting with the most fundamental Italian food, pasta.