Mangiare per vivere e non vivere per mangiare. Translated Eat to live and not live to eat. But when it is Italian, the saying can easily be turned around. Love for food is one thing and love for Italian is whole different one. Countries all over the world have their own versions of Italian dishes. Indians have prawns done in Italian style and USA serves tiny cheese pizza in School cafeterias. These popular dishes have become a part of our daily meals. So much so that we forget that they are adopted cuisine. Apart from Espresso, cafe latté and an exhaustive wine list, many dishes that has captured attention all over the world. Not just the dishes, the ingredients are also very popular. Like base sauces, olive oil and their variety of breads, not to mention cheeses. In this article we will consider the dishes as a whole and not the ingredients. Warning! This is bound to make you hungry. Enjoy the cucina italiana.
There is nothing new I can tell you about variety of pizzas available. The basic is that it is freshly baked bread with a tomato and cheese and about any food you wish. It can be only cheese to loaded chicken to Indian version of Paneer tikka masala. Nothing can beat the stone brick oven cooked true Italian version. It is said that the classic form of Pizza, Margherita, is named after Queen Margerita of Savoy.During those times pizza was considered a meal of pheasants but the Queen loved it. The court and royal family were not very happy but the queen continued despite their displeasure. Smart Queen! Common cheese pizza, pizza slices have become go-to food in most of the world. The chains like Pizza hut; Dominos commercialized this dish and took it to masses. However it is said that true taste of Pizza comes in Italy alone with their special tomatoes grown in volcanic ash of Pompeii. Sounds intriguing!
The globalization has made the daily food a melting pot of variety. Cousins from parts of the world have become common and they are added and adapted into our local food. It only makes food much more colorful.
Simplest way to explain this dish is to various lasagna sheets alternated with various sauces and ingredients. It is prepared with assorted types of cheese like Parmigiano-Reggiano, mozzarella etc. Tomato sauce and other ingredients are also added in between the lasagna sheets. Meat, veggies are also added. In all cases the lasagna is oven baked. Very few places get the dish just right and when they do it is pure delight. Lasagna literally meant the pot in which the food was cooked hence the plural form of word is widely used i.e. lasagne. 29 July is lasagna day so be sure to use this as an excuse and dig into this cheesy preparation.
It is ice cream only better. The ingredients are all the same but a lesser dash of butterfat and lesser amount of sugar. Also unlike ice-creams, it is not made in large batch frozen at once. It is made in smaller batches which are frozen separately. Thus the air’ felt in ice-cream is completely eliminated and the flavor is enhanced and intensified. The drawback here is that we can’t keep it fresh and edible for more than couple of days. So we got to restock it every couple of days. Now-a-days Gelato can be found in every mall. They are a delight!
Whats is there to not like about melted cheese and dipping stuff in it? Seems like a good idea right? Well the Italian thought so too. It has a communal pot of melting cheese and long forks with breads. The different versions include chocolate fondue (dip fruits, marshmallows and cookies in melting chocolate). It is an absolute delight to enjoy fondue in a chilly night with wine or black tea or sprites! This has fun traditions associated with it, if a man loses the bread in the pot; he buys everyone a round of drink. If women lose bread, she kisses her neighbors. Fun way to party!
Rice is one ingredient which is found widely in many Italian dishes. Risotto is a popular example. It is basically rice mixed with broth, vegetables, meat, fishes etc. The final product is creamy and flavored dish. It popularly includes parmesan cheese and butter. Mario Batali is among the masters of Italian Risotto dishes and his pointers will help you cook this dish for if cooked haphazardly, it is just uncooked rice soup. If you pull it off, you are the master!
Literally translated to mean twice cooked. This is as precise as it gets. The biscotti are biscuits which are twice baked. They are elongated almond cookies, are dry and crunchy. As the cookies are very dry they are usually served with wine in Italy. This forms a popular dessert or after meal snack. Outside worlds enjoy it with a cup of coffee. There is a fruity version of this dessert bread. Cherries are popular option to accompany biscotti. This was the classic version. Now days we have chocolate glazed biscotti, hazelnut and pistachios are common addition.
7. Fettuccine Alfredo
Fettuccine Alfredo is a pasta dish invented by Roman guy named Alfredo di Lelio. Alfredo was a restaurateur and the classic version has pasta tossed with cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano) and butter. The trick is to melt the cheese and have it coated over the pasta. This forms a rich thick layer on the pasta. The Alfredo sauce is a common commodity and is widely available. The other versions include lesser cheese, use of starch and addition of chicken, vegetables etc. This is one delicious dish!
Contrary to popular belief, Pasta did not originate in Italy. A version of Pasta i.e. Spaghetti did origin in Italy it is long strings of cylindrical pasta made of flour and water. Italian version is made of durum wheat. Spaghetti is commonly served with tomato sauce and variety of herbs. Olive oil, meat, vegetables are common additions. How can we overlook cheese! Be it parmesan, pandano etc., they make spaghetti much yummier. Spaghetti with meatballs is another popular version.
Whats a meal without dessert and what’s an Italian meal without Tiramisu? Though there is ragging debate over who invented tiramisu or where was it invented, we can all agree this is one of the most popular dessert from Italia. It is made up of biscuits soaked in coffee. Further it is decked with whipped cream and egg yolk. It has dash of cocoa and also liquor flavors. Wonder how it tastes in Italy, it can only be better right!
Granted, they are technically a gift of Sicily. However as it was adopted by Italians early on and they passed it all over the world, they are included in the list. Cannoli (singular cannolo) literally means little tube. They are dessert pastry tubes filled with sweet, creamy smooth cheese. This is the traditional version. The more pepped up version has chocolate chips on inside and powdered sugar on the outside. For kids, there are Nutella or peanut butter filling. These lovely cannolis are as small as fingers to as large as fists. Either way, they are delicious!