The Italians are amongst the foodiest people on the planet, and it is no wonder at all that their cuisine should have travelled so far or so successfully. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t really appreciate any Italian food at all, even if it is just pizza and gelato that they love. If you are a keen cook and you are thinking of trying to get a little more into Italian food, you might want to think about some of the following. In this article, we are going to discuss the various joys of Italian food: how to know what it is and what it tends to be characterized by, how to cook it in a way which is both traditional and unique (not to mention delicious), and how to know how to eat it in a way which means you will love it. Let’s take a tour through Italian food and see how you can create great examples of it in your own home.
The Italian Influence
Italian food travels very well, and it doesn’t take much to figure out why that might be. If you love Italian food, there might be any number of reasons that you do, and it is something that you might be keen to try and pin down, btu that can be very hard to get right. The influence of Italian food across the world can be seen quite clearly, most notably in the rest of Europe and the USA. Whether it’s the success of Original Joe’s in San Francisco or the many pizzerias in New York, the influence of Italian cuisine is clear – and it’s everywhere. It’s not hard to see why you might be keen to cook it and eat it as much as you can. But if you are really serious about cooking more Italian food, and cooking it better, where should you begin?
In many respects, the Italian way of cooking is fairly simple. It doesn’t involve too much technical handiwork compared to some other cuisines, and generally as long as you get some basic techniques down you will find that you can start cooking Italian well before too long. Even so, there are some challenging aspects to it, and it is a good idea to start simple when you are hoping to cook more Italian food, or better Italian food. Before you start trying to make your own pasta, consider trying out some basic recipes which use pre-made pasta instead. Similarly, before you make pizza dough, try just getting used to the toppings and developing a really strong tomato sauce for the base – or even a pesto. By starting simple, you can hope to gradually improve your skills along the way, and at the end of it you will have much better Italian food being cooked in your home kitchen in no time.
Don’t Overdo The Pasta
The first thing that most people think of when it comes to Italian food is pasta, and there is absolutely no doubt that it is one of the main cornerstones of Italian cuisine. However, that doesn’t mean that you should cook it all the time, and in fact it will be beneficial if you can make a point of trying to keep it fairly limited at first. You might well be able to learn a lot of pasta dishes – and once you know how to make your own pasta, this can quickly get especially addictive – but it is worth also sitting back and trying out a few other kinds of Italian dish early on too. Believe me, you will soon get bored of pasta if it is all you cook, so make sure that you are creating space for the many other wonderful dishes that Italy has to offer. The other sense in which you should try not to overdo pasta is that people of non-Italian origin tend to overcook it. You generally almost always want your pasta to be al dente, which means that it retains a little bite, rather than being soft. Finally, make sure that you don’t cook too much of it. Usually the pasta is the star of the dish, but the idea is to create wholesome, tasty and minimalist dishes, not heaps and heaps of pasta on the plate.
Olive Oil – Your Best Friend
You might already be aware that Italians use plenty of olive oil in their cooking. If you don’t already use olive oil, you might want to think about making this change, as it is bound to really make a huge difference to how well your food comes out. Olive oil is healthier for you than many of the other oils which you might come across, and it is certainly a lot better for you than other fats such as butter. It’s a good idea to start using it liberally and in place of most other fats. Not only is it healthy, but it’s delicious, and it’s a great way to make your meals have that real genuine Italian taste to them. Start shopping around for olive oils and trying out different brands. It’s great to find one that you love, and which you are happy to use for all of your meals.
Fresh & Seasonal
You should generally be aiming for seasonal food anyway, despite what kind of cuisine you are cooking, but it might prove to be especially important when it comes to Italian food. The Italians love to cook with what they have in season, and it is partly this fresh approach to food which makes their meals so delicious, so if you are hoping to create wonderful dishes, this is something you should consider too. It is also obviously better for your health and for the planet to use fresh, seasonal produce, so make sure that you make a point of this wherever you can. There is really no reason not to, and it helps create a more genuine Italian taste in all of your meals.