Food is undeniably a great part of Italian culture; it is a mirror that reflects the different attitudes of people from all around the country. For example, the strong-flavoured dishes of Sicily, that have a hint of Arabic influence, represent their straightforward and down to earth behaviour, while the more complex and sophisticated courses of Piemonte reflect their more scheming and cold approach. But there are some things that represent the whole country, that brings us together in front of the international community. So here are 3 interesting facts about Italian cuisine that you might have not heard about!
1.BREAKFAST ON THE GO
They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it might be true, but in Italy that’s not the case. In the morning my usual routine meal consists in a few biscuits and the Italian take on the French croissant, the “cornetto”, which is smaller, with less butter and a little less sweet, basically adapted for a light meal. Most Italian fare well enough with just a cup of coffee though, specifically a caffè latte or a cappuccino, or even a caffè nero ( pure black coffee) for the strongest of heart. We might drink it on the go from a bar while running to catch the train for work or make it at home using a moka, a vital item in any Italian household.
2. PASTA, PASTA EVERYWHERE!
Did you know that there are currently more than 600 different types of pasta? And people keep coming up with new shapes and forms all the time to match very different needs: you see, each brand is specifically designed for a different purpose like absorbing the sauce, holding it together, having the right curvature for a specific plate, being harder or softer, longer or shorter, all in order to allow the cook to properly express himself in his work. Some types that enter the market fail and are forgotten, while others become classics in the kitchens of Italians always evolving and changing to match the needs of the people.
3. ORIGINS OF PIZZA
Pizza was born in Napoli, as a meal for poor people. It had the form of compressed bread, seasoned with oil, lard and oregano. It was a sort of economical compass for Napoli, since its prices showed the current situation of the city’s resources. In 1843 Alexandre Dumas, that lived in Napoli in 1835, wrote:
“Pizza is a sort of flatbread; it is round, and hand worked like bread (…). Pizza is with oil, with fat, with lard, with cheese, with tomatoes, with little fish. It is the gastronomical thermometer of the market: the price grows or decreases based on the course of the aforementioned ingredients, according to the abundance or shortage of the year. When the fish pizza costs half a grain, it means that the fishing went well; when the oil pizza costs a grain, it means that the harvest was bad.”
But the pizza as we know it came to be when Queen Margherita, in her visit to Naples in 1889, was to try the dish made by Raffaele Esposito and his wife: they came up with a pizza that represented the Italian flag: green with the basil, white with mozzarella and finally red with the tomato sauce. The Queen liked the dish so much that it entered the tables of nobles all around of Europe with the name of “Pizza Margherita” and – well – the rest is history.
If you want to know more about the Italian cuisine, get to know the tricks and tips on how to make your Italy-inspired dishes more pristine, you are kindly invited to the PASTA CRHONICLE event – a cooking workshop in Trbovlje Youth centre on Wednesday, 17th July at 18:00. Ci vediamo!
Adam El Aouad
The article was created as a part of the BRIGHT project under Erasmus+.