In these winter months, it’s nice to daydream about your next holiday. If warm weather and delicious food is what comes to mind, then a getaway in Italy might be just what you need. After all, who can resist al dente pasta, freshly baked pizzas or cured hams?
About Italian Cuisine
The foundation of almost all Italian cooking lies in one ingredient: olive oil. Used to braise, fry, cook and drizzle, it’s an absolute essential. You can even enjoy it on its own with just a little bit of dipping bread. Other foods often listed in recipes include onions, parmesan and garlic.
We can’t talk about Italian food without mentioning pasta! Served as a small first course, pasta comes in all shapes, colours and sizes. Though a classic dish, flavour combinations are constantly renewed to create exciting vegetable, meat and seafood-based sauces.
•Meat & Fish
The antipasto is always followed by a fish or meat dish. From braised beef and roasted lamb to swordfish and sardines, Italian food is bursting with flavour.
Rooted in the country’s gastronomic culture, outdoor markets are at the heart of Italian cooking. Here you’ll find the mouthwatering array of colourful vegetables that bring their dishes to life. From tomatoes, olives and peppers to greens packed with flavour, you’ll find all the local staples.
Where to Eat
Now that you’re an expert in Italian gastronomy, it’s time to sample the country’s favourite dishes and plan your culinary tour. Here’s a quick rundown of some of my favourite foodie destinations.
The northwest is another great region of Italy to explore. Though globally acclaimed for its fashion capital Milan, it also offers a superb standard of Italian food. From unrivalled saffron risottos to Grana Padana cheese to light panettone cake, you’ll want to sample every Lombardian recipe!
If you like Italian food with powerful flavour, then Sicily is the place to be. This region is best known for its delicious wines, fruit and nuts, though it offers many treats for your taste buds. To start I’d recommend the caponata, a combination of seafood and vegetables, or the arancini, rice balls stuffed with peas, meat and mozzarella. To finish off, treat yourself to the deliciously sweet cannoli and cassata.
Famous for its succulent vegetables, meat, fish and pasta, this southern region does Italian food at its best. Though you’ll be tempted to fill up on bread soaked in the delicious olive oil (a speciality of the area), you’ll also want to savour a few local delicacies. For your antipasto, I’d recommend the maccheroni al forno or the orecchiette. Follow that up with roasted lamb or beef. Or if you’re in the mood for seafood, Puglia is renowned for its mussels, sea bass and red mullet.
Hopefully I’ve whet your appetite and you’re ready to rush off on your culinary adventure!
John Dixon is an experienced world traveller and the Managing Director of Prestige Holidays. For over 30 years, he has been providing luxury holidays all over the Mediterranean, as well as holidays in Bermuda, Croatia and many other destinations around the globe. John tries to visit each of the destinations regularly in order to ensure the quality of his properties, and as a result is an expert on topics as diverse as Italian food and Moroccan culture. He has a taste for the finer things in life and has an interest in arts and history.!