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Italian Cuisine


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cherry tomatoes, garlic cloves, pasta, and a glass of white wine Italian cuisine has gained worldwide popularity for its simple and savory ingredients, and ranges from basic comfort food to gourmet selections paired with flavorful wines.  Pasta of various shapes and sizes is one of the most important ingredients in many Italian meals and may be freshly made or dried.  Italy produces the largest amount of wine in the world, and wine often accompanies afternoon and evening meals, along with coffee or espresso.  Olive oil is a staple throughout Italy, and many dishes also use a variety of natural ingredients including capers, pine nuts, and sun-dried tomatoes.

Traditional Italian dishes vary depending on the region of origin and local ingredients.  Northern Italy has an abundance of rice, corn, and ham, and creates heavier dishes utilizing salami, prosciutto, mortadella sausages, polenta, and various cheeses.  Southern Italy produces olives, durum wheat, and tomatoes, and uses fresh, seasonal ingredients to create dishes that are low in animal fats, but high in vegetables and carbohydrates.  The vegetables and meats are often grilled or baked with savory herbs and olive oil.  Artichokes, olives, chestnuts, and wild mushrooms add interest and flavor.  Pasta sauces, soups, and pizzas are enhanced with fennel, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, and radicchio.

Much of the Italian food we have come to know and love today has been passed down through families for generations.  These mouth-watering recipes were rarely written down and have often survived with little change.  Hearty and filling pasta dishes like spaghetti or linguini with marinara sauce, lasagna, antipasti, fresh breads, and desserts like tiramisu are just a sampling of the Italian fare that has gained international renown.  Whether it is a quick and simple meal or a gourmet dining experience, Italian cuisine is perfect for any occasion and is sure to please even the most selective of palates.

More information about Italian cuisine and culinary instruction can be found at the Italian Institute for Advanced Culinary and Pastry Arts website.

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