Thursday, October 26, 2006

True Italian cooking

True Italian cooking is arguably one of the most delightful cuisines in the world. Italian cooks take their food selection, preparation and enjoyment very seriously. Every meal is a family celebration, each course enjoyed with lots of conversation. A meal in Italy is purely delightful.
Italian cooks insist on the very freshest foods. Perhaps more than any other culture, Italian cooking focuses on the season. Many Italian cookbooks present chapters of recipes by season. Italian cooking is very visual as well. The Italian cook pleases both eye and palate.
Catherine dè Medici brought fifty cooks with her when she traveled to France to marry Henry II! Nonetheless, she was influenced by French cooking techniques and their incomparable sauces. Today, the French influence is still found in regions of Italy which border France.
Italian cooking, in all other regions of Italy, remains much as it has for centuries. Each region has foods not found in other areas.
In southern Italy, you'll find olive oil, tomatoes, peppers, pasta and eggplant to be the staples of their cuisine. Fish and shellfish dominate the coastal regions. Northern Italy, with its' large dairy stocks, favor butter rather than olive oil, with an emphasis on polenta and breads, compared to pasta in the south.
Fresh mozzarella cheese is abundant in southern Italy, made from water buffalo milk. There is no more tasty cheese than fresh water buffalo mozzarella! Pair this with tomatoes and basil for a wondrous treat.
Italian cooking aims for simplicity, relying on the quality and freshness of the local and seasonal foods to speak for themselves. Fish are often simply grilled, splashed with olive oil and dressed with a wedge of lemon. Italian cooking methods and techniques allow the exquisite and delicate flavors of the food to come through in all their glory, not disguised or amended with overpowering sauces.
Italian cooks have dozens of variations of pasta suitable for any dish. Long, flat, ribbons, spirals and curls are some of the common shapes. Italian cooking matches the pasta to the ingredients. Spirals and curls are designed to capture a thick or meaty sauce, while the long flat types are best with delicate thinner sauces.
Italy lays claim to about 450 different types of cheeses. A virtual cheese lover's heaven. Then there are mushrooms, truffles, olives and the most spectacular selection of produce you could hope to find.
With such a diversity of seasonal fresh foods, it's indeed a wonder that Italian cooking is never “overdone”. Instead, you find an almost infinite set of combinations comprising each region's cuisine, producing so many unique and simple dishes.
Bread is an art in Italian cooking, and is served with each meal, balancing texture and taste in a symphonic orchestration with its' companion foods.
If you can't visit Italy now, surf the net for authentic recipes. Italian cooking is simple, fresh, full of flavor and one of the heart-healthiest cuisines on the planet!