Regional italian specialties
Italian regional specialties were born from varied ethnic influencies of those who have governed the territories of italian history and from the variety of local products subjected to the different clima.
Italian territory has any kind of landscapes and resources, for example the Po river plain rich of water, where it has been possible to grow rice (Italy is the only european country that cultivates this cereal), particulary in the north-west between Piedmont and Lombardy; or buckwheat in the Alps valleys; of corn in north-east between Lombardy and Venetian regions; of hard wheat in the north, center, south and islands.
Islands like Sardinia and Sicily, from the roman empire period, provided two harvests in one year.
The territory and the clima, have given to the peninsula every commestible resource, from the sea fish, shellfish and mollusc, etc.; the countryside every type of farming and breeding, pigs, cattle, sheep and equines, etc.; lakes and lagoons, rivers and forests, have given alternative pruducts that allowed men to feed in every season.
The territory, gastronomically speaking, has divided Italy in “macro-regions” where food have been preserved and prepared according to the resources, the method and the season; in these “macro-regions” recepies may be similar and have a nutritional criteria that follows the same tradition.
An example can be made with central Italy: Marche, Abruzzo, Lazio, Molise and Umbria, where breeding sheeps most of dishes are based on sheep and goat meats, so the cheeses among the most tasty dairy, but also games; these regions boast the best cured meat of wild boar……
The lagoons, that more or less are everywhere on the territory, have given men alternative food like muscles, clams, oysters etc., that today are cultivated and boast recepies known worldwide.
Also the cultural influences of those that in the history have conquered lands of the peninsula and left a footprint of flavours among the most differentiated, from sour to sweet, to salted and spicy.
The use of sesame on bread and sweets in the southern regions and islands, explains the imprinting left from middle-easterns (Sarrasins, Fenicians, Turkish, etc.); of cinnamon and nutmeg in Venitians regions (Venitians were merchants of spices that from Asia they brought to all Europe); but also the way to cook in wine and preserve meatcuts typical of Piedmont, a clear influence from France in this territory (brasato and donky sausage, deer and game preserved in wine).
At last we must mention also products of extra european origin, tomatoes, corn, citrus fruits, etc., that on the peninsula have taken new flavours and new grafts that have generated quality and varied recepies; tomatoes San Marzano of neapolitan region have this special flavour thanks to volcanic soil; corn cooked meal (polenta) has offered a new way to nutrition with this cereal; Clementines, Manda-orange and Mapo (cross of tangerine and grapefruit) are new crossed fruits among those originated in Asia, that in Calabria are born and are known and apreciated.
One last mention must be given to monks of many orders, Benedictines and Franciscans in particulary, that have always researched herbs and wild plants to produce medicines and new recepies, experimenting flavours and properties, writing textes and conceiving “medical nutrition”; few countries have the tradition to use dandalion (powerfully depurative) as salad or stewed in a meal, nettle that we use to make gnocchi, pasta, bread and biscuits, and basil that from ornamental plant becomes a sauce that Genoese have made famous worldwide: Pesto.
In conclusion, Italy is a surprising territory for the richness of flavours, for the different methods of cooking and preparations, and the combination of ingredients unknown in other cultures.
This writting is an invitation to discover a gastronomy conceived with nutritional, medicinal properties that pleases the taste, that this land will never be tired to create, always in search to astonish and be apreciated.