ITALIAN CUSINE | FOOD AND WINE IN ITALY

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Italian cuisine has developed through centuries of social and political change. Significant changes occurred with the discovery of the New World and the introduction of potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers and maize, now central to the cuisine but not introduced in quantity until the 18th century. Italian cuisine is noted for its regional diversity, abundance of difference in taste, and it is probably the most popular in the world. Italian cuisine is characterized by its simplicity, with many dishes having only four to eight ingredients. Italian cooks rely chiefly on the quality of the ingredients rather than on elaborate preparation.

Modern Italian cuisine has developed through centuries of social and political changes, with roots as far back as the 4th century BC. Italian cuisine in itself takes heavy influences, including Etruscan, ancient Greek, ancient Roman, Byzantine, and Jewish. Significant changes occurred with the discovery of the New World with the introduction of items such as potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers and maize, now central to the cuisine but not introduced in quantity until the 18th century.

The Mediterranean diet forms the basis of Italian cuisine, rich in pasta, fish and vegetables and characterised by its extreme simplicity and variety, with many dishes having only four to eight ingredients. Dishes and recipes are often derivatives from local and familial tradition rather than created by chefs, so many recipes are ideally suited for home cooking. This is one of the main reasons behind the ever increasing worldwide popularity of Italian cuisine, from America to Asia.

Ingredients and dishes vary widely by region. A key factor in the success of Italian cuisine is its heavy reliance on traditional products; Italy has the most traditional specialities protected under EU law. Cheese, cold cuts and wine are a major part of Italian cuisine, with many regional declinations and Protected Designation of Origin or Protected Geographical Indication labels, and along with coffee (especially espresso) make up a very important part of the Italian gastronomic culture. Desserts have a long tradition of merging local flavours such as citrus fruits, pistachio and almonds with sweet cheeses like mascarpone and ricotta or exotic tastes as cocoa, vanilla and cinnamon. Gelato, tiramisù and cassata are among the most famous examples of Italian desserts, cakes and patisserie.

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FOOD AND WINE OF ITALY

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