When the food hits your gut and you like it a lot, that's amore! Or love for Italian food, that is!
Who doesn't love this cuisine? With dishes and ingredients dating as far back as the Renaissance period or even earlier, you know that their servings have integrity backed up by history. And like any other foodie haven out there, each region has their own specialties to offer.
For instance, Central Italy cooks up their pasta dishes differently than other regions. Being the area with interior cities, the way they preserve their ingredients affects the way they prepare them. The central region of any place produces more fusion-type cuisines, too, since their influences come from the settlers arriving from various places. For Italy, that means there's a mix of coastal dishes with mountain-area influences, too.
When you travel to Northern Italy, a different fusion happens in their cuisine. Here, you'll taste a lot of Italian dishes mixed and influenced by other European countries. So if their food reminds you of French or Swiss fare, you know why!
As for Southern Italy, tomato lovers will love this region more since they use that ingredient a lot. So prepare to taste it in soup, bread, pasta, rice and meat dishes.
Want to know the sample dishes and recipes from these regions? Take this quiz now and see! We'll reveal popular samplings inside. So, bring your appetite with you.
Contrary to popular belief, gelato is not synonymous with the concept of ice cream as we know it. Since it doesn't involve egg yolks and contains more milk than regular ice cream mixes, it appears denser and more compact to the taste.
Sure, Starbucks founders got inspired to build the chain from Italian coffeehouse culture, but java has a different vibe out there. While cappuccino lovers can thank the global chain for letting us drink that foamy fave anytime, it's just not done in Italy. It's only ordered during breakfast time.
There are various types of pasta out there, but you can't really categorize lasagna as its own kind. While its layered pasta sheets look like its own category, it still belongs to the ribbon pasta category. The people of Naples thought this one up during the Middle Ages.
If you're wondering about how bone marrow tastes like, order the dish called osso buco. They'll serve this huge shank of bone with the meat-and-sauce dish, and it's the centerpiece of the presentation. The jiggly soft substance inside the bone is the marrow; it's high in cholesterol so careful!
There are Italian cheeses and there are Italian cheeses. But mascarpone is in a different category on its own since it's more like cream cheese than regular cheese. Since it's soft and easy to spread, it's a popular ingredient mixed in with many dishes and desserts, in particular cheesecakes.
Newbie foodies might mistake this one for Japanese food because of how the name sounds like, but tiramisu is 100% Italian cuisine. That mascarpone cream cheese thing gets mixed into this popular cake. If you're a fan of coffee-flavored desserts and cakes, this one's for you.
Europeans distinctly mark when to take their alcoholic drinks for a good reason; either the alcohol mix enhances food before eating or it helps your stomach cope with what you ate after. Italians call their after-dinner drinks as "digestivo" or digestif in English and limoncello fits in that shelf.
While some places in the world already encircled their territorial claim over specific types of pizza (hello New York pizza, we're looking at you), it's still an undeniable fact that this worldwide fave is Italian by nature. To really taste it the Italian way, order the Pizza Margherita type.
So you're a fan of authentic Italian pizza and can't get enough of its dough? Then buy a basket of focaccia bread since its consistency is similar to what they use for pizza. Buy the one mixed with rosemary for a truly authentic Italian feel to the bite.
People with sensitive teeth need to get some warning before they bite a biscotti. While this biscuit is enjoyable to eat, remember it's twice baked so it will last for a long, long time. They needed to make it that way because this originated during medieval times when people went on long journeys.
They call this essential liquid "aceto balsamico" but we folks know it as balsamic vinegar. Unlike many vinegars we're more familiar with, Italians make this one out of grapes. It's best mixed with olive oil for salad dressings and bread dips.
If you think the Italians don't have their own version of the dumpling, think again! Theirs is what they termed ravioli but surprise surprise, it's encased in pasta dough. It also comes in canned varieties and that one was useful during World War I.
If you see a pasta dish that's white and creamy, especially the ones that use the spaghetti type of pasta, then that might be of the carbonara type. This dish originated in Rome sometime during the 20th century and uses the hard kind of cheeses in the mix.
Fans of cookie dough toppings in ice cream or frozen yogurt desserts will get a kick out of tasting gnocchi, too. They're basically made of small dough bits similar to what they use in cookie dough desserts. Various Italian regions have their own versions of this dish.
Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato so any dish with this word means it has tomatoes mixed in there. People might know that the most commonly ordered one is the "pasta al pomodoro." This dish uses fresh slices of tomatoes instead of tomato sauce — the reason you'll know it's authentic Italian.
If the French have their hors d'oeuvres, the Italians have their antipasto which serves the same purpose: appetizers. "Antipasto" though is the singular word in Italian and the plural form is "antipasti." It's a mixture of different small stuff like cheeses, mushrooms, and various meats.
Be careful in ordering this dessert pastry because cannoli also sounds like the name of a main dish. You'll know you ordered the right thing if they serve you this thin, crispy, deep-fried rolled dough filled with creamy stuff. It's also the size of fingers.
If you hear the root word "riso" included in an Italian dish, then get ready to eat rice; that's what this word means. But as a dish unto itself, risotto comes from Northern Italy where they cook it creamy and mixed with cheese, butter and spices. It can come mixed with other stuff, too.
Naples played a huge part in concocting many Italian cuisine favorites that withstood the test of time. One of these is the folded pizza dish they call calzone. Authentic Italian preparations use ricotta, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses inside.
People from other regions familiar with eating caramel flans, custard or crème brûlée will also enjoy sampling panna cotta. These dessert items somehow share a similar consistency in their gelatinous make.
If you're looking for vegetarian-friendly Italian food fare, then minestrone is a safe choice. This thick soup uses many veggies like carrots, celery, beans and of course tomatoes. For the carbs, some prepare it with small pasta shells or even rice.
To start off a meal, the simplest bread type they can serve you in an Italian restaurant is the bruschetta. You can order the simplest one that's flavored with butter and garlic with some salt and olive oil. More complicated versions incude savory toppings featuring cheeses or veggies.
It's interesting to note how various regions don't waste items to produce specific food and drinks. When it comes to producing the drink called grappa, one requirement is to mix in the skin, seed and even stems of the grape in the distilling process. That's how you'll know it's authentic grappa.
There are various long and flat pastas in Italian cuisine so it's best to familiarize yourself with their differences to order the right one. When you order the fettuccine, that's the widest flat one. A little narrower is linguine while the tagliatelle is even narrower than that.
Outside of Italy, you can encounter the chicken parmigiana kind with slices of that fowl baked in with cheese layers and tomato sauces. But the authentic Italian version of parmigiana consists of sliced eggplant that's deep-friend first before layering in for baking.
So it's not only the Japanese who enjoy eating raw slices of food like salmon or tuna. The Italians also eat raw stuff but their carpaccio contains slices of raw meat in there. Some variations include beef, venison or veal while others can also have horse meat in there, too.
When you see a dish with the term "Bolognese" in it, that means they use meat-based sauce as a mix. The meat in question here is a minced or ground version of beef or pork often cooked with tomatoes plus herbs and spices, simmered together until it becomes saucy.
Fans of hummus might find the polenta familiar because they have similar consistency. But while hummus consists of ground chickpeas and spices, polenta is from ground corn we call cornmeal. In other parts of the U.S., cornmeal can also become bread; the same is true for the polenta.
If you're new to the dry-cured uncooked ham taste of Italy, the best recommendation is to try prosciutto di Parma. Italian restaurants often serve this on an appetizer platter combined with blue cheese slices and black olives. This goes well with soft bread dipped in a balsamic-olive oil mix.
Make sure you're ordering the cannelloni if you want the rolled pasta dish because if you say cannoli, that's the rolled dough dessert! Since the paste they use here is the rolled-up version of what they use for lasagna, their preparations are somewhat similar.
Unlike other breads in Italian cuisine, ciabatta is relatively newer in existence. It got invented only in the 1980s within the Veneto region of Italy. But it soon got picked up by other regions, too, which added in their own unique variations to differentiate their region's product from the others.
Different parts of the world invented their own versions of the omelet, and the frittata is Italy's contribution to this menu. Theirs somewhat look like quiche since it's pie-like in appearance and thicker than how the Spanish or Americans would make an omelet.
The pesto's origins goes back to the city of Genoa in the Liguria region where they mixed basil leaves, pine nuts, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic and salt to produce the green pesto sauce. Its flexibility is evident in various pasta dishes and meat-based dishes as well.
Cocktail lovers might like the taste of the gin-vermouth-Campari aperitif called the Negroni, but did you know that it's originally Italian in invention? Records show that a man named Negroni requested a bartender to jazz up the Americano drink he was having to make it stronger; this was the result.
Now you have to be really careful when ordering the pasta dish with the term "puttanesca" because it might appear rude if you don't mention the whole word, because a shortened version is a slur in Italian, just like it is in Spanish.
When you see the term "insalate" on the menu, that means it's the section for salads. The singular term is "insalata" so that's what you also read accompanying specific salad names such as the popular insalata caprese or the tomato-based salad mixed with mozzarella chunks and basil leaves.
Different countries have their own contribution of Christmas-specific food items like bread or pastries. Italian's contribution to this seasonal menu is the panettone, that sweet bread pastry which originated in Milan.
Italy also jazzes up rice in different ways; one of those ways is evident in arancini. They're deep-fried rice balls that's also mixed with other yummy stuff for more flavor. Thank Sicily for inventing this one and making it a popular street food fare all over the country.
People familiar with the pockets type of food item will enjoy tasting the piadina. The Italians use round flatbread for this one and fold it up with fillings inside. These fillings can be meal-like such as meats or veggies or dessert-like such as sweet spreads or jams.
If bistecca sounds like beefsteak to you, then you've hit the carnivore jackpot! Thank Tuscany for preparing meat this way we all get to enjoy. The term "Fiorentina" means Florence, the city capital of the Tuscany region.