The Cooking of Italy

by Matthew Locricchio

The Regions of Italy and How They Taste

Look at the map of Italy and its shape is instantly recognizable - a boot that has stepped into the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas. Just to make sure it is not going anywhere, that boot is securely fastened to the rest of Europe in the north with the majestic Alps, the tallest mountains on the continent. The Apennine Mountains extend from north to south, creating Italy's spine. Finally, off the tip, or toe, of the Italian boot lie the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, surrounded by the emerald green Mediterranean Sea.

It may seem easy to define Italian cooking in general terms. It's all Italian cooking, right? Not quite. In fact, Italy has some twenty regions, and each of these differs in many ways: land features, climate, history, customs, and ways of cooking. Even the form of Italian spoken and the names of foods and cooking techniques may vary from region to region. So what is the one thing you can say about all Italian cooking? Real Italian cooking is la cucina di casa - the cooking of home. It is in the home kitchen that real Italian food is created, based on the unique foods and flavors found in local markets and fields.

For simplicity, we will divide the cooking of Italy into three main areas: north, central, and south plus the islands of Italy. It will be helpful to remember these divisions as we explore the regions of Italy and how they taste.


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