Italian food is one of the most famous and popular cuisines in the world. Iconic dishes such as pizza, pasta, and gelato are beloved everywhere. The strength of Italian cuisine lies in the use of fresh, quality ingredients and simple recipes. Italian recipes are often handed down and perfected over generations.
History and origins
Italy only became one country after the Risorgimento in 1870. Before that, it consisted of separate kingdoms. As a result, language, culture, and food traditions developed separately. There is still a strong sense of regional culture, especially when it comes to food, in Italy. Every region has it’s own traditional recipes and specialties. Those regional culinary specialties are protected by strict rules around the production.
Traditionally, Italians eat a small breakfast consisting of coffee and a pastry. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day and can take several hours. A full lunch has an appetizer course (antipasta), the second course of pasta or rice (primo), a third course of meat or fish (secondo) with vegetable side dishes (contorno) and a dessert (dolce). Dinner would then be smaller, often a soup or pasta with a salad. All the food is, of course, served with copious amounts of Italian wine.
The Italians are very proud of their food and will often claim that their mother or grandmother makes the best version of something. Italian home cooking is wholesome and flavorsome, and dishes are prepared with a lot of love and attention to detail. You will likely eat the best food of your life at an Italian grandmother’s house.
Most Italian recipes are practically sacred, and changing them in any way is almost blasphemy. The attitudes around this have relaxed a little recently, especially with young chefs reimagining traditional Italian food. Some Italian food rules that people used to adhere strictly to are:
- No cappuccino after 11 am, coffee with milk is considered a breakfast drink.
- No cheese on seafood.
- Particular sauces can only be used with particular types of pasta.
- Bread is served to mop up the remaining sauce.
- Salad is a side dish, not a starter.
- You drink water or wine with your food.
- Use a fork to twirl your spaghetti, never cut it.
Italian food and the Mediterranean diet is considered pretty healthy, thanks to the use of fresh and high-quality ingredients, lots of vegetables and extra virgin olive oil.
Food is closely tied with culture in Italy. Meal times are a time for socializing with friends and family. Celebrations and festivities are never complete without a lot of delicious food. For the Italians, food is all about pleasure.
Some of the most popular Italian dishes are, of course:
- Pizza: this sauce topped flatbread was invented in Naples. The best pizzas are baked in a wood-fired oven. Although there is now a lot of variety in toppings, most Italians prefer a simple pizza, like Margharita.
- Pasta: pasta is the collective noun for a large variety of dough products. Pasta comes in a lot of different shapes. Long and thin like spaghetti, is traditionally used for thinner sauces. Short pasta shapes, such as penne, are more appropriate for chunky sauces.
- Lasagna: this pasta dish is real comfort food. It is made by baking a dish of layers of meat, sauces, pasta, cheese and sometimes vegetables in the oven.
- Risotto: a slow-cooked rice dish made with arborio rice. The rice is slowly cooked while stirring in broth to create a creamy dish.
- Gelato: the Italian version of ice cream is lighter and softer than American style ice cream. The best gelato is churned by hand and made daily from fresh ingredients, such as milk, fruit, and nuts.
- Tiramisu: one of the most famous Italian desserts. The name means “lift me up.” It is made with mascarpone cream, eggs, sugar, coffee, and cookies.
Aside from the classics, there are plenty of lesser-known Italian dishes that are just as good:
- Arancini: breaded and fried rice balls, often filled with meat, cheese, and sauce from Sicily.
- Tortellini e brodo: cheese or meat filled pasta served in a clear broth from Bologna.
- Gnocco fritto: deep-fried pieces of pizza dough served with cold cuts of meat, such as ham and salami from Emilia-Romagna.
- Ossobuco: slow braised beef on the bone from Milan.
- Zabaglione: a custard served with fresh fruit.
Italian restaurants on foodpanda:
Ready to eat some good Italian food? With foodpanda, you can easily order food from the best Italian restaurants in Singapore. Try the ossobuco from Rubato, the pasta from Pastaria Abate, the risotto from Rosso Bianco, the tiramisu from Casa Roma, gelato from Venchi and pizza from Napolizz Pizza.