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The Ten Most Iconic Italian Foods – Part 2

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.

Risotto

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.    

Truffles

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

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.

Ossobuco

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. 

Focaccia

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.

The Ten Most Iconic Italian Foods – Part 1

Italy is a most diverse country in many ways, from its landscape to it culture. Each different region has its own particular wine and food, depending on what can be grown and raised in that area. The food of Italy changes from the large towns of the north to the plains of the central region and down to the coastal regions of the south.

And this is a culinary journey across this great food nation to find the most iconic dishes of Italy including pasta to pizza and everything in between. It is not meant to be a best of list, but merely to highlight the diversity of the foods in Italy.

Pizza

The humble pizza is probably the most iconic dish from Italy and is famous throughout the world. Although it is probably the most simplest of dishes, and one of the easiest to prepare and cook it has claimed its place at the top of world food.

Compared to other world fast-foods such a fried chicken and beef burgers, the pizza is fairly healthy and with simple toppings it is delicious. Italians prefer their pizzas simple and with few toppings, and definitely with no pineapple.

Lasagna

Instantly recognizable and the ultimate comfort food, Lasagna is not just popular in Italy but across the world. The large sheets of pasta are layered with ragu, bechamel sauce and mozzarella and then baked in the oven to produce a highly succulent and very filling dish. The best place to eat it in Italy is Emilia Romagna where it is made with fresh pasta, and a unique ragu sauce.

Bistecca Fiorentina

This T-bone steak ticks all the boxes for one of the ten most iconic Italian dishes, it is an individual cut of meat, from a particular animal, prepared a special way of a specific region. The cow happens to be a Chiania cow raised in Tuscany, and the cut has to be a minimum of 5cm from the animal’s loin.

This steak and the way it is prepared and cooked can only be found in Tuscany, and it is so big (1-2kg) that it is meant to be for two people. It is normally presented by itself with no adornments and eaten just simply as a meat course.

Polenta

Pasta is recognized as one of Italy’s most famous dishes, but the truth of the matter is that Italy’s famous starch in the south of the country is Polenta. Made from corn, Polenta was the turn-to mush for many of the workers in the fields. It lacks the variations of pasta in form and texture but is a perfect accompaniment to a wide range of meats, and is perfect for stews and gravies.

When temperatures drop in the northern parts of Italy it is the best dish to warm the cockles of the heart. And it can be eaten hot or cold so it is perfect for picnics or eaten with leftover meats, chicken, and of course vegetables.