Italian food is some of the most popular in the world. It’s nutritious, simple, and cheap. However, Italian food is much more than just plates of pasta and takeaway pizzas.
You should be aware of all the Italian recipes that have helped make Italian food so popular and learn more about the products and ingredients used in each dish.
Extra virgin olive oil is a common ingredient in many Italian dishes and meals. (Source: RitaE)
In this article, Superprof is going to take you on a culinary journey to Italy. By the end of reading this, you should have a much better understanding of what makes Italian food so special and why so many people love the Mediterranean diet.
Italian cuisine has almost conquered every corner of the globe and with good reason.
It’s impressive how widespread it is. For one, 14 billion pasta dishes are consumed every year! Pasta carbonara is the most popular dish in the world.
However, the authentic Italian recipe doesn’t call for any cream. In fact, Italians hate it when you add cream to a good carbonara. The original recipe only calls for pasta, bacon, parmesan, and eggs.
The success of Italian food has been helped by various waves of immigration from Italy to other parts of the world:
That’s why you can find Italian cuisine in North and South America as well as all over Europe.
New York City is home to many people of Italian descent as well as plenty of Italian restaurants and stores. (Source: Marisa04)
There are plenty of Italian restaurants outside of Italy and it’s not just the Italians who enjoy the food. Italian is the most popular type of food for a lot of Brits.
What about the rest of Europe, though? It’s the same story:
As we mentioned before, the Italians didn’t just stay in Europe and neither did their food. Across the United States and Canada there are a lot of Italian neighbourhoods.
They brought their traditions, including cucina della mamma (traditional Italian home cooking), with them to local businesses and neighbourhoods.
Even some of the most typically American dishes have a taste of Italy in them. Take pizzas, for example, that even have particular styles depending on which city you’re in.
From Naples (where the Neapolitan pizza was born) to New York, the humble pizza has put in the mileage.
Tourists from all over the world can find themselves in some of the most famous Italian neighbourhoods:
These are the neighbourhoods where you can find plenty of trattorias, Italian restaurants, and Italian grocery stores… sometimes even the architecture will remind you of Italy.
In South America, Argentina could almost apply for dual nationality given how many Italians are there.
In the capital, Buenos Aires, while there’s no Italian neighbourhood, the Italian influence can be felt in almost every street. Especially when it comes to the food.
Did you know that it’s traditional for people in Argentina to eat gnocchi at the end of every month before payday?
In fact, in a lot of traditional Argentine restaurants, you can find dishes such as:
If you’re interested in cooking Italian dishes, you should look for Italian cooking tutorials, ideally from authentic Italian chefs.
Saying that Italian food is just pizza and pasta is a bit like saying that the United Kingdom is just London (however, you can get Italian cooking tutorials in London!).
Italian food is sometimes subject to unhelpful stereotypes. Fortunately, there are plenty of skilled Italian chefs breaking these stereotypes.
Itchefs is a group for Italian chefs working outside of Italy. Their goal is to promote Italian cuisine around the world.
Mozzarella can be served as its own dish with some balsamic vinegar. (Source: Bru-no)
They organised the International Day of Italian Cuisines on 17th January to show off a few of the most popular Italian dishes:
You should pair some of the amazing Italian wine with these delicious dishes, too. Italy is one of Europe’s biggest wine producers and in 2015, it produced more wine than any other country in the world.
Their popular wines include sparkling white wines like Prosecco and sparkling reds like Lambrusco.
Trebianno d’Abruzzo is one of the best Italian wines. If you like white wine, you’ll love this one!
Learn more about the different kinds of Italian food.
The Italians have got cooking down to an art.
Before you cook any of our top 20 Italian dishes, you should know that in Italy, cooking focuses on eating at home with the family as much as it does in restaurants.
Dishes and recipes are often passed from generation to generation.
If you want to cook a pizza, you could make a margherita, the traditional pizza with tomato sauce, basil, and mozzarella, or a Neapolitan pizza with oregano and parmigiano reggiano, you’re going to have to master making the dough.
Whether it’s for pizza, pasta, or risotto, the ingredients used in Italian cooking are very important.
You should make sure to stock up on tomatoes if you want to start cooking Italian food. (Source: Couleur)
Before you make any Italian dishes, you’re going to need to stock up your fridge and cupboards with some typically Italian ingredients. Here are the first few things you should get and always keep stocked up:
These ingredients are some of the most commonly used in Italian dishes and are a must for anyone hoping to master Italian cooking.
While you can find them in most supermarkets, you should also check out Italian grocers if you can as they tend to get better artisanal products than the bigger supermarkets.
Once you’ve got them, you’ll be able to make pasta (fusili, penne, spaghetti, or stuffed ravioli) with carbonara, bolognaise, or pesto.
You can also make risotto, ossobucco, and plenty of Italian starters (known as antipasti in traditional Italian meals) like crostini and arancini.
Find more delicious Italian recipes.
While we probably often think of Italy as a country, you should keep in mind that it wasn’t until quite recently that Italy was a single country.
In fact, Italian unification only occurred in 1871.
Rome might be the capital of Italy, but is it the capital of Italian food? (Source: The_Double_A)
This is partly why Italians have both a national and regional identity according to the part of Italy they’re from as well as plenty of regional specialities when it comes to food.
So next time you find yourself in an Italian restaurant, you’ll quickly see the regional diversity available on each menu.
With so many Italian regional specialities, there’s something for everyone when it comes to Italian cooking.
That’s not all, though! There’s also an Italian food theme park that opened in 2017.
In the mean time, get to your ovens! If you feel like learning more about Italian cooking, why not enlist the help of a private tutor?