Italian food is one of the most diverse cuisines in the world, it encompasses everything from simple fast foods such as pizza, to complex creations to test the best of chefs such as ossobuco. The food of Italy is very much regional, and although you could eat lasagna anywhere in the world the best is where it was invented in Emilia Romagna. So many influences contribute to the food of Italy, but the main one is the locality. And what can be grown, raised, or caught locally. And here are some more of the iconic dishes from this culinary giant of a country.
There is a holy trinity of Italian starches, pasta, polenta, and rice, and out of the three rice is the least popular. However, in typical Italian fashion one rice dish they do create with flair and passion is risotto. The best risottos are to be found in northern Italy, and Carneroli and Arborio rice paddies can be found in Piedmont and Lombardy.
A good risotto should never be left unattended, and the stock should be ladled in one spoonful at a time so the grains of rice absorb as much as the liquid as they can and release even more starch into the dish. One of the classic risottos is Milanese which has generous amounts of saffron added.
One highly iconic ingredient used in Italian cooking is truffles, and only the Italians could have considered to use a pungent fungus in their cooking. Truffles are one of the most expensive ingredients in the world and should be used sparingly due to their strong flavor and aroma.
Gelato is another highly exported Italian food that is eaten all over the world. It is not quite the same as ice cream as it has far less butterfat. The lower fat content means that gelato is not served as cold as ice cream and melts in the mouth faster. The velvety texture of gelato makes it popular with young and old alike.
Another northern Italian culinary giant of a dish is the world-famous ossobuco alla milanese. Served on a bed of risotto this slowly cooked veal shank is normally accompanied with a gremolata to add zing and zest to the hearty meaty stew. This dish takes at least three hours to prepare so not many restaurants feature it on their menus.
The good people of Milan are credited with the development of Ossobuco, but there are regional varieties in places such as Lombardy.
Italians love their bread and there are literally hundreds of different varieties. One of the most famous is focaccia which originated in Liguria. It is made in a similar fashion to a pizza dough, but the bread is highly flavored with salt and olive oil. Focaccia can be eaten by itself or served as part of an exotic sandwich. The iconic foods of Italy are now enjoyed all over the world, and have become famous from New York to Tokyo. But the best place to sample then is in their regional localities of Italy made from authentic ingredients.