Learn to Make Italian Food Italian food has long been amongst the most popular food in the world. Everyday people all over the world sit down to meals of fresh Italian food that tastes so good it's hard to imagine making it yourself. However, there are some people who are up to the challenge of learning to make quality Italian food. For some it is not just enough to enjoy Italian food, they need to create Italian food. There are many options today for learning to cook Italian food. Some people live in areas where there are no Italian food cooking classes. Others may feel too self conscious in order to go to an Italian food class. But there is an option for everyone that wants to learn to cook Italian food whether they want to become a world class chef or if they just want to not be intimidated by a pot of boiling water and a handful of spaghetti. The great thing about Italian food is that it has great dishes that are simple to make for the beginner and complex dishes that take world class chefs years to master. There really is something for everyone. The first option to learn to cook Italian food is cooking classes or cooking school. If you want to become a professional Italian food chef then you will want to attend an accredited cooking school. There are many different culinary institutes in the United States and around the world that can help you specialize in Italian food. Research the different options and decide which will be best for you and will help you meet your goals. Some things to consider are tuition and location. You can attend school abroad or in your local area. If you want to start work right away after graduation at an Italian food restaurant, then see what kind of help the different schools give in job placement after graduation. Going to school to become a professional Italian food chef is very challenging but in the end it is extremely rewarding to know that you can craft some of the finest Italian food in the world. For those not wanting to necessarily become professionals, you can look into local cooking schools or community centers that offer lessons in cooking Italian food. You can learn to make specific regional Italian food or just take a few classes to teach you how to cook a meal for a special occasion to impress friends or family. Another great option in today's world is to learn how to cook Italian food right from home. Today it is possible to take classes in cooking Italian food off of the internet. This is a great option for people who are self conscious or like to take things at their own speed in a comfortable environment. There are both paid and free cooking classes online that can help you with your Italian food skills. Research the different programs available and see what is right for you. Be sure to also check out reviews of online programs and see if previous students feel that they really learned how to cook Italian food from the course. You can never be too careful online, but once you find a school that you like that has good reviews, don't hesitate to jump right in. Before long you'll cooking up fabulous Italian food dishes that previously seemed impossible. The Different Pastas in Italian Food There are two main categories of pasta used in Italian food, dried pasta and fresh pasta. Right now there are over 350 different shapes and varieties of dried pasta being used in Italian food. Some varieties are common and others are specific to a certain regional area. The shapes used in Italian food can range from the classic tubes and strands to butterflies or bowties and even unique shapes such as tennis rackets. Italian food is taken very seriously in Italy and by law all dried pasta is required to be made with pure durum semolina flour and water. This standard is adhered to by most pasta makers all over the world and only this type of dried pasta is used in good quality Italian food. The reason that Italian food in Italy tastes different than the Americanized Italian food is because pasta makers in Italy take more care in making quality pasta. Dried pasta is meant to hold onto the sauce with which it is being served. After all, Italian food wouldn't be Italian without the sauce. The pasta is made with ridges or into complex shapes in order to grab onto the sauce. These ridges are formed during a process known as extrusion. This is the step in pasta making where the pasta is forced out of a copper mold and then cut into the desired length before being dried. The copper molds are the key. They are expensive and likely to wear, but they make the best pasta. Unfortunately, most of the pasta used in American Italian food is made with steel molds that make the pasta too slick to hold onto the sauce. However, more and more pasta makers outside of Italy are beginning to use the copper molds in an effort to make better quality Italian food. The drying process also greatly affects the quality of the pasta and the resulting Italian food. Pasta should be dried for a specific amount of time in a specific temperature depending on the variety. Pasta made in Italy is allowed to dry for long periods of time, up to fifty hours, and at relatively low temperatures. Companies outside of Italy typically dry their pasta at high temperatures in order to get it dried quicker. This method comes at a price and diminishes the quality of the pasta and the resulting Italian food. The other form of pasta used in Italian food is fresh pasta. All pasta actually starts out as fresh pasta but certain pasta recipes require that the pasta be eaten fresh and soft, not dried. Fresh pasta is often made with slightly different ingredients than dried pasta. In the northern parts of Italy fresh pasta is most often made with all-purpose flour and eggs. However, the southern parts of Italy make their fresh pasta with semolina and water. It should be noted that different recipes can call for different variations. These different recipes give a distinct flavor to the Italian food of different regions. Some types of pasta are meant just to be eaten fresh, while others are meant to be dried. There are also some types of pasta that can be fresh or dried; it depends on what Italian food dish is being prepared. When a variation of pasta can be either dried or fresh it is sometimes argued that the fresh style is best. Making fresh pasta is a point of pride for many Italian households and is reflected in the quality of the Italian food that they prepare. Spaghetti Etiquette in Italian Food The most popular and widely recognized Italian food today is spaghetti. However, it seems that no other Italian food has caused such consternation in figuring out the polite way to eat it. It has become so bad that when taking a date to eat Italian food, both parties will avoid the spaghetti in order avoid making a mess or looking less than attractive while eating it. Spaghetti is a delicious Italian food and there doesn't need to be all this stress associated with eating it in public. Forget what you've been told what follows is how you eat spaghetti. First off, if you are fortunate to be eating at an Italian food restaurant or Italian home that is actually in Italy, then you need to keep your hands on the table. Now when I say hands, I mean hands, still no elbows. Also, be sure to wait until everyone is served before you start to eat. The most often repeated Italian food advice given is to use a spoon to aid in eating spaghetti. Unfortunately this is also the most widely spread Italian food myth. Whatever you do, don't use a spoon. It is considered very bad form. Just use your fork, I'll explain how to do it and keep your Italian food on your fork and not on the table or your shirt. Another oft repeated word of advice is to simply cut the spaghetti noodles shorter. Again, this is erroneous. Spaghetti is about ten inches long and is the right length, you should never cut it. It's also important not to slurp the spaghetti. Any sounds you make while eating are considered rude. Italian food is known for its wonderful sauces, be careful not to splatter them all over the table and your clothes. On this note, don't ever wear a napkin like a bib; it is very tacky and inappropriate. While spaghetti might be your favorite Italian food, it is not a dish that should be served for large or formal parties, largely because of the issues that cause an article of this nature to be written. Choose instead to serve an Italian food comprised of short pasta that is easier to serve and eat. Now it is time to teach you the proper technique to use when eating that ever popular Italian food, spaghetti. Spaghetti is served in a bowl with a rim. You want to push the spaghetti to the center of the bowl, making room at the front. Now take a little bit of the spaghetti with your fork and push it to the front of the bowl. Now hold your fork vertically with the prongs against the rim and turn the fork clockwise in order to wrap the noodles around the fork. Then lift your fork and examine the length of the noodles hanging to see if it's a good idea to proceed with putting it in your mouth. It is always best to err on the side of caution and put too little rather than too much spaghetti on your fork. If you need to, lower the fork back down and take a smaller bunch of noodles and twirl them again. Better to take a little time than to end up with Italian food all over the place. Following these tips will ensure that you impress your friends at an Italian food restaurant and get invited back to eat Italian food at a family's home. The Italian Food Diet It seems recently that among health circles Italian food has gotten a bad rep. With the advent of Atkins many former Italian food fans have steered clear of the cuisine because of all the pasta that is used. However, this idea that pasta will make you fat is largely unfounded. A diet of Italian food, especially from the Mediterranean is actually very healthy and will keep you looking and feeling great as long as you know what Italian food to eat and how to prepare it. A great example of the fact that Italian food will not make you fat is in Sophia Loren. She told the world in her book that she grew up on spaghetti and ate it constantly. She says that it is not the pasta that makes you fat; it's what you put on top of it. People who gain weight eating Italian food typically do so not because of the pasta, but because of creamy sauces like Alfredo sauce and because they eat in too large portions. Italian food from the Mediterranean doesn't rely on rich, thick sauces and uses olive oil instead of butter, making it very healthy. It all starts with the ingredients you keep. For good, healthy Italian food you want to make sure you stock the kitchen with quality pasta, olive oil, garlic, onions, lean meat, fish, and seafood. For seasoning you will want some herbs like basil, oregano, and parsley. You'll want to stay away from a lot of cheese and perhaps only get a little parmesan cheese to top your favorite Italian food dishes. The creamy and cheesy Italian food dishes are the ones you're going to want to stay away from to keep a healthy diet. There are several different light Italian food meals that you can prepare with these simple ingredients. Here is one to start you off, an Italian food classic, pasta with tomato sauce. You can use any type of pasta you want and you might want to try livening it up with variety. Italian food is not just spaghetti noodles. Boil the pasta in water with salt. Make sure not to overcook the pasta. You want it to be firm, yet tender. The most common mistake made in making Italian food is making mushy pasta. For the sauce simply chop up some garlic, an onion, and some tomatoes. Take a tablespoon of your quality olive oil and saute both the garlic and onions until they are soft. Once that is done add the tomatoes and cook until all the ingredients are blended together well. To top it off add your favorite herbs such as parsley, oregano, or basil. Try different combinations of herbs, there is no definitive herbs for Italian food so experiment and give your sauce your own signature flavor. Serve this sauce over your hot pasta and if you want put a little sprinkle of parmesan on it. This is a simple Italian food dish that stands on its own and you won't need to eat bread or anything else with it. This is a great example of how healthy Italian food is supposed to be, light and fresh. Feel free to try different variations on this recipe. Italian food is full of a variety of pastas and recipes that can keep you satisfied and healthy as long as you stay away from the heavy sauces and creams. Friuli-Venezia Giulia Italian Food Italian food varies greatly throughout Italy and pairing down Italian food to just the fifteen or so dishes that can be found at Italian food restaurants in the United States is very short sighted. There are many different regional cuisines in Italy that take their cues from surrounding countries and mix in a little local creativity in order to produce their own unique Italian food. One great example of this is the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. This region shares a border with the former Yugoslavia and shares a lot of the same traditions, including culinary traditions. The Italian food here is strong with Austrian, Hungarian, Slovenian, and Croatian influences. One of places that this is most apparent is in the beer halls of the area. Here they feature such dishes as Viennese sausage and goulash. Goulash, which originated as a Hungarian dish, has taken on a distinct Italian taste here and can often be found in fine Italian food restaurants both in and out of Italy. Goulash is immensely popular in this region and is a thick stew of beef and local vegetables such as onions and red peppers. It is very thick and seasoned with paprika and can be served with pasta. Another dish that makes a frequent appearance at the beer halls in this area is Bohemian hare. The most often used meat in this area is pork. In fact, if visiting this area it is essential to try one of their world famous San Daniele del Friuli hams. These hams are a staple of the local Italian food. The whole region is known for their bacon and sausages. In fact there is a local dish called jota that is unique to the region and is a stew dish made with beans and bacon. The pork in this area is spicy and this may come as a bit of a shock to foreigners not familiar with this brand of Italian food. The pork is often cooked over an open hearth and is seen in many dishes even if it is not the main entree. There are many other foods specific to the area. The sweeter side of the Italian food here includes strudel. Most of the desserts here are flour based and so strudel is very common. One of the most common dishes found in the area is polenta. This is a dish of boiled cornmeal and is a staple of the regional diet and can be found served with all types of Italian food including both meat and cheese dishes. It is most similar to American grits. Another Italian food staple that must be mentioned in this region is the cheese. The world famous Montasio cheese comes from this region. If you like your Italian food with lots of cheese, and not just mozzarella, than this is the region for you. One last dish that must be mentioned is brovada. This is a dish that is unique to the region. It is most simply turnips that are preserved in marc. This most certainly is not a dish that most people think of when thinking about Italian food, but it is a dish that is unique to Italy and is therefore an important part of Italian food. So the next time you're up for some Italian food, branch out and try some different regional cuisines. Tuscan Italian Food Tuscany is one of the most well known regions in Italy. Many Italian food lovers find some of their favorite dishes in Tuscany. People love the simplicity of Tuscan Italian food and the region has its own very distinct style of cuisine. One appeal of Tuscan Italian food is that it is generally healthy. This is due in large part to its use of olive oil. There are many different varieties of olives that are grown in the area and used extensively in the cooking. Beans are also widely used as are vegetables, seasonal fruits, and mushrooms. Of course the area also has the cheeses that are a signature of Italian food. In October and November the people are up for a real treat because this is when the famous white truffles of the area appear. Contrasting this lighter side of the Italian food is the extensive use of meat in Tuscany. High quality beef can be found in the region. There is even a specific breed used for the famous t-bone steaks that are known as Florentine steak. Pork is also used a source of protein in the Tuscan Italian food. One of the reasons for their famed use of meat has historical roots. When the country started relying heavily on polenta and other corn products, many people began dying due to malnutrition. It was discovered that the thousands of deaths were tied to a lack of protein and other nutrients. Since that time the Italians have taken care to add more variety to their diet than just pasta. Tuscany has perhaps more unique Italian food dishes than any other region. Some popular dishes include fresh vegetables either raw or slightly cooked and served with olive oil that is seasoned for dipping. Tuscany is also known for a reheated vegetable soup dish. The meat dishes that are most unique to the area include Tuscan-style veal shank and T-bone steak. The Italian food that features pork in the area includes creamed bacon and a complicated dish of pig's liver stuffed into a pig's stomach and then slowly baked with stock and red wine. The real Italian food gem in Tuscany is not just the unique entrees, but the unique breads. There are specific breads for specific holidays and seasons in Tuscany. On Good Friday bread that is baked on a bed of chestnut leaves is served. They also have breads made from maize, fried in olive oil, made with sweet chestnut flour with rosemary leaves, breads made from a mixture of different flours; the list goes on and on. Usually Italian food makes one think of all the different forms of pasta, but in Tuscany the Italian food of variety is the bread. On Easter Sunday special bread that is made with raisins, saffron, and other spices is consecrated in church before being served. It has a high fat content and is served with eggs. There are also sweet rolls that are eaten on the St. Anthony feast day. Who knew that Italian food included so many different breads? Just as there are many different cheeses in Italian food, there are just as many Italian food breads to serve with them. Tuscany is a treasure trove of Italian food. Try eating at a Tuscan inspired Italian food restaurant, or make sure to visit Tuscany while in Italy to try all the different unique Italian food dishes that they have to share. Tiramisu -- The Italian Food Dessert Today Tiramisu is the most popular of Italian food desserts. It graces the menu of nearly every Italian food restaurant. However, its rise to fame has been meteoric; it wasn't even invented until the 1970's in the Veneto region of Italy. It didn't even gain widespread popularity until the early 1990's. It is a unique blend of ingredients that separately seem to not go together at all. However, when correctly blended together they form one of the treasures of Italian food. The first ingredient is Mascarpone cheese. This cheese has very deep roots in Italian food. It was made as far back as the 13th century in the region of Lombardy. This cheese is concentrated milk cream and has a very high fat content, getting up to seventy-five percent. It is a smooth and creamy cheese. Traditionally it has been considered to be more of a winter dish and therefore shows up in more of the seasonal Italian food dishes. This is mainly because of its high calories and the fact that when it was first produced there was no refrigeration and this delicate cheese does not keep well in hot temperatures. Like many other Italian foods, the best Mascarpone cheese comes directly from Italy. However, it you're an Italian food lover making Tiramisu at home, there are plenty of makers of Mascarpone cheese in America. The next ingredient is Zabaglione cream. This is a true classic Italian food dessert. It hails from the world renowned kitchens of Venice. When it originally became a popular Italian food dessert it was made with yolks, honey, and a sweet Cyprus wine. However, today the cream has taken on a new flavor. To begin with sugar is substituted for the original honey. The most stated difference in taste though, comes from the use of Marsala wine instead of the sweet Cyprus wine. This cream can be made from home and is easier to make than most Italian food chefs let on. The third ingredient is the most distinctive factor of Tiramisu, espresso. This shot of caffeine is where the dessert gets its name, which means "pick me up". This is a coffee that is true to Italian food and is much stronger than American coffee. Espresso is the most important coffee in Italian food and can be seen following many Italian meals. The fourth and final ingredient is Ladyfingers. These popular cookies originated in Italy and have made numerous appearances in not only Italian food, but in many other national cuisines. These cookies are remarkably light due to the fact that the dough with which they are made is rich with whipped egg white. They are immensely popular and one of the most appreciated Italian food desserts in Italy. These four ingredients blended together just right and topped off with chocolate make an Italian food dessert that is as popular as the individual ingredients. Make sure when you prepare this at home that you take great care in choosing the ingredients, it will really make a difference in the quality of Tiramisu. Now that you know the correct quality and the origin of the ingredients you will surely impress your friends with you Italian food knowledge. Risotto and the Veneto Region Italian Food With so many different Italian food dishes it is hard to pick a favorite. However, for those who like risotto, Veneto is the region for you! Italian food varies greatly by region with each area presenting their own unique dishes and flavors. One of the most recognized Italian food dishes is Risotto and because of that Veneto is a must stop region for those travelers in Italy wanting to taste some excellent Italian food. Risotto is most simply a rice dish cooked very precisely. It is one of the most commonly ordered appetizers at Italian food restaurants. Yet for its amazing popularity, it is also one of the most common Italian food dishes to be botched. The key to a good risotto is to first cook the rice briefly in olive oil or butter. It should be cooked until it is evenly coated and begins to turn translucent. After that, broth is added to the rice slowly, one spoonful at a time. The most defining quality of a risotto is that the rice is toasted. If the rice isn't toasted than it's not a risotto, no matter how fine the Italian food restaurant is that you're in. There are many different variations on risotto because it can be made and served with so many different Italian food favorites. In Veneto the ingredients added to the risotto are determined by location. For instance, in areas closer to the coast it will be made with fish and other seafood. As you move in from the coast you will see risotto made with different vegetables like pumpkin, asparagus, and radicchio. It is also commonly seen made with frogs' legs which appear in Italian food more than most people think. The Veneto region is also home to some unique foods. The dishes here are heavier and rely on exotic spices and sauces. One unique dish that originated here and is quickly gaining popularity as an Italian food dish is pasta and beans. Beans are used in many dishes here due to their ready availability. This is also an area of Italy where anchovies and stockfish are used extensively in Italian food. However, fish is not the dish of choice here, being beaten out by meats and sausages. A favorite meat is sopressata which is a dry-cured salami. It gets its name from the fact that while drying it is often pressed with a weight and comes out looking flat. It is most often made with pork, but sometimes beef is used. Another favorite Italian food meat is garlic salami. The Italian food here is also reliant on some of the prized vegetables of the area. Veneto is especially known for their high quality red radicchio and their asparagus. One last dish that is unique to the area is a rice dish with young peas. The Italian food of Veneto clearly breaks the mold. It is full of diversity from dishes made wholly with vegetables and rice, to some of the most famous sausages in the world. If a night of Italian food for you must include risotto, than Veneto is the place to be. If you consider yourself a sausage connoisseur than the Italian food of Veneto will again be a must taste for you. The region truly offers something for everyone! Regional Italian Food When most people think of Italian food they think of dishes of spaghetti, lasagna, minestrone, and tortellini. This is a very general view of Italian food and if you were to travel to Italy you would be very shocked by the Italian food that they eat. The main reason for this is that there are over nineteen regions in Italy, all serving up their own variation on Italian food. Furthermore, Italian food is very seasonal and depends on the freshest ingredients, so the cuisine in summer will be very different than the winter cuisine. The Italian food that most Americans are familiar with comes from the northern parts of Italy. This is where the rich dishes full of cheese and heavy on the sauce come from. The meats that are most commonly used here are beef and pork. If you love the Italian food that you can find in America, than the northern region of Italy is the place for you. This food will be most familiar, but it will still offer an exciting change from the Italian food found in the United States. Also, don't let the stereotypical view of Italian food just being spaghetti and meatballs slow you down. In fact, very few people in Italy actually eat spaghetti and meatballs. The Italian food that is actually found in Italy is much more complex and diverse and will rely on more spices than just garlic. As you move further south in Italy you will find that the cuisine changes. In the south there is more fish used. Often this brand of Italian food is called Mediterranean food. The dishes here are much lighter and are healthier in general. The people in the southern half of Italy are amongst the healthiest in the world and it is due in great part to the types of Italian food that they eat. One of the reasons this Italian food is so healthy is because they use olive oil to cook most of their food in. One of the great misconceptions about Italian food is that it uses too many spices in overwhelming quantities. This misconception probably arises out the importation of Italian food to America where it is often cooked by people who have never been to Italy, much less eaten authentic Italian food. While spices are used in Italian food, they are meant to be an accent to the natural flavor of the dish. The fact that Italian food is seasonal makes it less likely to rely on heavy spices since there is a strong fresh flavor about the meats, sauces, and pastas. However, travelers will find that the food in the northern regions of Italy do use a little more spice in their Italian food than the southern regions. So, when thinking of Italian food it is important to remember that there is no national standard of the cuisine. With nineteen regions there is a vast diversity in dishes. Each region boasts their own unique take on Italian food, showcasing their native crops and livestock. However, all throughout the country travelers will taste that certain something; will feel that comforting familiarity; that makes Italian food one of the most popular cuisines in the world. Popular Italian Food When people think of popular Italian food they most likely think of spaghetti, lasagna, or tortellini. However, the popular Italian food in Italy is actually a little different and much more diverse. A very popular Italian dish is the minestrone soup. This soup makes excellent use of one of the most popular ingredients in Italian food, beans. Beans are widely used in Italian food and are the feature ingredient in many soups, not just the minestrone. Along with beans are nuts as another popular ingredient. The main nut preferred for Italian food is the pine nut. This nut is used to not only accent pasta dishes, but also as a main ingredient in popular desserts. But, the most common and popular use of the nuts is in pesto sauce. Nothing says Italian food like a good pesto sauce. Another popular Italian food ingredient is rice. By far the most popular use for this ingredient is in the signature Italian food dish of risotto. Here rice is mixed with broth, vegetables and spices to make a very unique and flavorful dish. Risotto is widely known as the most popular appetizer in Italian food and different regions take great pride in their individual risottos. Rice is also used in many different soups and stews throughout Italy. The most ubiquitous of all popular Italian food ingredients is olive oil. The best olive oil is known as extra virgin olive oil and many Italian food chefs rely strictly on extra virgin olive oil. The difference between extra virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil is the acidity. In order to be classified as extra virgin the olive oil must not contain more than one percent acidity. Virgin olive oil on the other hand cannot have more than two percent acidity. Extra virgin olive oil is by far the most popular in Italian food where it is used not only to cook food in, but also as a dressing for salad and a dipping option for bread. When discussing popular Italian food it is essential to talk about the most popular breads and pastries. Breads serve an important role in Italian food. They can be used as appetizers, sides to a meal, and desserts. The most popular breads are flavored with herbs, cheeses, and sun-dried tomatoes. An excellent dessert bread in Italian food is the biscotti which means "twice baked". This popular dessert is more like a biscuit or cookie and is often flavored with almonds and spices. Fruit can be added to the biscotti and a popular choice is cherries. Biscotti are very versatile in Italian food, being served for breakfast with coffee or as an after dinner treat. There is much more to Italian food than just pasta and sauce. Italian food is a cuisine of diversity. When traveling in Italy it is often amusing to see the stark difference between what Italian food is popular in America and what Italian food is popular in Italy. If you want to try some different Italian food you certainly can't go wrong with these time tested favorites. All About Risotto in Italian Food There is really no definitive answer as to how rice arrived in Italy. However, as soon as it made its way to Italy in the fourteenth century, most likely from Spain, it became a hit in Italian food. Areas of the country outside of Milan have the perfect blend of flat land, water, and humidity to make rice cultivation a very successful endeavor. The intensive rice cultivation that began in the fourteenth century has continued and has made rice a staple in regional Italian food. Perhaps the most popular example of rice in Italian food is in risotto. Although risotto is considered a very serious dish in Italian food, it actually started out as a joke. As the legend goes a young apprentice was staining the glass used in the Duomo di Milano, a magnificent gothic cathedral, in 1574. He was relentlessly teased because it looked as if he had added saffron to pigments in order to obtain more vibrant and brilliant colors. When it came time for his master's wedding, he decided to play a little joke to show how tired he was of the teasing. So, he added saffron to the rice that was to be served at the wedding. The plan backfired and the rice was so popular amongst the wedding guests that it became the staple of Italian food that we know today. There are four main components to the risotto we know in Italian food today. The first is the soffritto. Sometimes this can be special ingredients specific to the type of risotto being made. However, it is typically a mixture of vegetables, butter, oil, and onions. This mixture is sauteed in the same skillet where the rice will later be cooked. The next component is the broth. The broth can be homemade or canned and can be beef, chicken, vegetable, or fish. The third component is the flavoring ingredient. This is the component that will give the risotto its specific flavor. This can range from vegetables to meat, truffles, or the ingredient that started it all, saffron. Now of course, the final component is Italian rice. The rice that is used in Italian food is made up of large grains with lots of starch. This rice is perfect for risotto because it can absorb large amounts of liquid and still remain firm. Risotto is a very popular Italian food dish, but it is also one of the most botched Italian food dishes because of the precise way in which the rice is prepared. Some tips to making it successfully at home include not washing the rice. If you were to wash the rice beforehand it would eliminate much of the starch that is needed to make good Italian food. There are also different types of Italian food rice and you will want to pick the rice that is most appropriate for your recipe. All rice is not created equal so check your recipe and cookbooks to decide which rice is best to use. You'll also want to use a double-bottom saute pan. This will keep the heat uniform to make sure the rice cooks evenly. It is important to saute the rice until it is toasted before adding the broth. However, don't cook it too long or it will harden. This is the most important part of making an authentic Italian food risotto, make sure the rice is toasted. After that it is all downhill. Just follow these tips and pretty soon you'll be cooking like a professional Italian food chef. Popular Italian Food Restaurants Italian food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world. It has long been an American favorite and there are countless Italian food restaurants throughout the United States. While Italian food was first brought to this country by immigrants and ma and pop shops, like everything else in this country Italian food franchises are quickly defining this country's perception of Italian food. Probably the first and most well known of these franchises is the Olive Garden. The Italian food served here is heavy on spices and thick, creamy sauces. The salad is dressed with Italian dressing and served with breadsticks. Popular dishes include ravioli, lasagna, and minestrone. While this restaurant has done a great job of introducing people to the concept of Italian food, the food served here is a far cry from the real thing. The salad dressing and breadsticks served here would never be found in Italy. Since the menu is the same year round fresh ingredients are not a priority and hence the dishes are heavily seasoned to hide the fact that the underlying ingredients hold little flavor. Sadly, many people's views of Italian food and the stereotypes surrounding this cuisine are only furthered by this Italian food restaurant. However, there are other large chain Italian food restaurants. Places like Macaroni Grill, Carino's, Buca di Beppo, and Carrabba's give a much better Italian food experience. While the Italian food served at these places certainly doesn't live up to the high standard of Italian food set by those who originated it, the food is still quite good. The ingredients at these restaurants are of a higher quality and the dishes are closer to an authentic flavor. Carino's is a great restaurant to go to for a casual meal. Macaroni Grill and Carrabba's are a little nicer and are great restaurants for an Italian food date. These restaurants don't rely on pastas with overly seasoned heavy sauces to convince you that you're eating Italian food. They use a wider variety of ingredients that are more true to the spirit of Italian food. Buca di Beppo is a great family Italian food restaurant. The decor is that of an Italian home and the meals are served family style. It is recommended that you find some friends or family that enjoy Italian food to share with because the portions are quite large. While Italian food chains are certainly not the best way to experience Italian food, they have come a long way and more and more restaurants are raising the standard to bring good quality Italian food to the general public that can't afford a plane ticket to Italy. More chefs are venturing out and trying new things with Italian food and the results are absolutely mouth watering. Italian food will always be popular in the United States. Just realize that when eating out at franchise restaurants you will never be able to replicate the flavor and quality of authentic Italian food made by Italians using recipes that have been passed down through the generations. Making Italian Food With Pasta For many Italian food lovers and aspiring Italian food chefs, the first dish to be attempted from home is typically a pasta dish. Pasta is known as an Italian food that is easy to make. However, homemade Italian food dishes with pasta often end up falling flat. Here are a few things to keep in mind when preparing pasta at home. First of all, your attempt at Italian food will only be as good as the pasta you use to make it with. When shopping for your pasta make sure you are buying a good brand that uses only quality ingredients. For instance, if buying dried pasta you should only buy brands that use just semolina flour. Any other type of dried pasta will taste like counterfeit Italian food. A good quality pasta will have a rough surface. The texture of the pasta will determine if it will be able to hold onto the sauce that it is served with. Smooth pasta is an instant indicator that you are dealing with an inferior brand. It is also important that the pasta be dense and heavy for its size. If the pasta is too light it will fall apart when it is cooked. You want to make sure to avoid the mass produced and cheap pasta; otherwise your Italian food will not be satisfying. When shopping for fresh pasta you want to make sure that you pay attention to the expiration date, unlike dried pasta, fresh pasta does not have a long shelf life. Take a look at the pasta and if it looks cheap then it is. If it looks to have a good quality color and texture and is heavy, then that is the pasta that will give you the best tasting Italian food. The best bet when shopping for pasta is to see if there is a bakery that specializes in Italian food. Many such bakeries make pasta fresh daily and the quality will far out do anything that you will find at the store. The best way to get authentic Italian food is to get it from Italians. Once you have bought your pasta you are halfway to enjoying good Italian food. The most important thing to remember when cooking pasta is to not overcook it. Mushy pasta is never good. For good tasting Italian food you want the pasta to be tender, yet firm to the teeth. Fresh pasta will take less time to cook than dried pasta. You want to make sure and use a large pot with an abundance of water. Bring the water to a boil and then liberally add salt. If you don't salt the water then the pasta will taste bland compared to the sauce it is served with. After you've salted the water it is time to add the pasta. If you have plenty of water that is brought to a vigorous boil before adding the pasta then you shouldn't have problems with the pasta sticking and it should cook evenly. Good Italian food sauce makes use of the water that was used to boil the pasta, so make sure to save a cup of it to add to the sauce. Also, don't ever rinse the pasta after you've cooked it, otherwise you will be stripping away the flavor of your Italian food. Hopefully these tips will help you make better Italian food. If you haven't tried preparing Italian food yourself then give it a try starting with the most fundamental Italian food, pasta.
Lombardy -- The Other Side of Italian Food There are many different factors that merge to create the style of Italian food eaten in a particular region of Italy. A great example of this is the Lombardy region. The land here dictates what ingredients are used in the Italian food and hence what type of dishes will emerge. The biggest feature of this region is the vast plains. These plains allow for an abundance of cattle and these cattle greatly affect the type of Italian food found in this area. For instance, while most people think of olive oil in conjunction with Italian food, in this region butter is much more popular. There is also a lot of cream used in the food here; again not something most people associate with Italian food. These distinct differences from the general ideas of Italian food are due to the abundance of cattle found in the region. Cheese is a very important ingredient in the Italian food here. One important cheese is the robiola. This cheese is part of the Stracchino family and is a soft-ripened cheese that is distinctly Italian. It is made from a blend of cow, goat, and sheep's milk. The proportions of the different milks are distinct to different areas of the region and so it is possible to taste several different samples of the cheese, each with its own distinct flavor. Grana padano is also a very important cheese to the region. This is a hard, grainy cheese made from cows milk and aged anywhere from eight to twenty-four months. This cheese is important in the history of Italian food. It was invented by monks who used ripened cheese as a method of preserving extra milk. By 1477 this cheese was one of the most famous cheeses in the world and it certainly hasn't lost any luster with the passing years. Another distinct feature of this area's Italian food is the use of single pot dishes. These are dishes which take less work to create and are therefore more popular amongst the working class of the area. Polenta is very popular as is rice. There are many different risottos that are common in the area as well as rice based soups. A popular version of risotto here is flavored with saffron. Another dish that is immensely popular and has made the region famous is its traditional ravioli with pumpkin filling. While ravioli is popular with Italian food lovers most have never had it with pumpkin filling. It is also served with melted butter and is often followed by turkey traditionally stuffed with stewed meats or chicken. True to the picture of Italian food the area boasts yet another unique pasta dish, this one with a twist as well. It is a dish of buckwheat pasta with potatoes, Swiss chard, butter, and Bitto cheese. Of course you can't overlook the importance of desserts in the Italian food of Lombardy. The region boasts a few sweet dishes. They make a traditional Christmas bread made with yeast dough and dotted with candied citrus peel, raisins, and candied fruits. An even sweeter Italian food creation is torrone. This nougat confection is made from honey, sugar and egg white. It is then coated with crushed, toasted almonds. The last unique dish to the area is actually a condiment made of boiled fruits seasoned with mustard. This region really does expand a person's view of Italian food. The History of Pizza in Italian Food Italian food is unique amongst world cuisines in that it has birthed not one, but two international sensations. Of course I'm talking about pasta and pizza. Pizza is one of the most widely eaten foods today. While most people think of pizza in America as Italian food, it really is not like the pizza of authentic Italian food. It is said that with one taste of pizza made in the style of authentic Italian food, you will never go back to the Americanized version. Even when eating at Italian food restaurants it is hard to capture the distinguished taste of true Italian pizza. Pizza is one Italian food that has been around in one form or another for centuries. It has a long history in the Mediterranean where it began as a seasoned flatbread that was used more as an edible plate to hold other food, rather than as a food by itself. However, these earlier pizzas established a name for Italian food very early on and were eaten in Greece, Rome, Egypt, and Babylon and were emphatically praised by many historians of the day. It was in the Middle Ages that pizza began to take a form that would be more familiar to Italian food lovers today. Pizza started out being just a dough topped with herbs and olive oil. Once mozzarella cheese began to be produced from Indian Water Buffalo it quickly became a signature aspect of pizza. Today at any true Italian food eatery this fresh mozzarella di buffalo is nonnegotiable. The dried shredded mozzarella that is often associated with Italian food would actually never be used on a pizza made by a true Italian food chef. It wouldn't be until the tomato became popular in Italian food in the 18th century that we would see modern pizza. During this time pizza began to take an even more prominent role in Italian food. In Naples pizza was sold on the streets for every meal. This once peasant food was quickly taking hold of all of society, including the upper class. In fact, by 1830 the first ever pizzeria was opened in Naples. Ever since this time pizzerias have been found all over the world converting people to the love of Italian food. Traditional Italian pizza is cooked in a wood fired oven. The reason American pizza is often not thought of as a true Italian food is because the large restaurant chains that specialize in pizza do not cook it in a wood fired oven. Pizzas featured in Italian food restaurants should use only the freshest ingredients. In Italy pizzas change with the seasons as new ingredients become available. The great thing about pizza that has made it so popular is the fact that it can be topped with a vast array of toppings. Each region of Italy has its own particular style of pizza that they specialize in, making use of the ingredients most readily available to them. So for real Italian food pizza it is necessary to step out of the confining ideas of just a few types of pizza and open your mind to the different possibilities. Italian food is full of variety and you could literally spend a year in Italy just trying all the different styles of pizza that made Italian food so universally popular. Italian Food on a Date Want a romantic night out on the town? A fine Italian food restaurant is a safe bet. Italian food has always been romantic and here are some tips to picking a great restaurant. It's important to pick a place that serves authentic Italian food; otherwise your date will come off looking like a cheap imitation of the real thing. How do you know what's authentic? Simply look at the menu; if you understand it, it's not authentic enough. You're looking for more Italian food than just spaghetti and pizza. You might also want to talk to some people who work at the restaurant. When I'm looking for an authentic Italian food experience I definitely want the people behind the food to know more Italian than English. If everyone there seems too American you can bet the food is going to be more American-Italian than authentic Italian food. Once you find a place with a good menu the next step is to learn to understand it. You won't make a good impression on your date if you order something and are then shocked to find out what it is when it gets to the table. Decide beforehand what you're going to order and learn how to properly say it in Italian. Then, find out what Italian food your date likes and pick out some recommendations from the menu beforehand and learn how to say them. When it comes time to order and you're reading off your selection from the menu like an Italian food connoisseur you'll really impress your date. Now, Italian food isn't Italian without a good wine to go with it. Any respectable Italian food establishment should have a nice selection of wine. This is a must for your romantic date. Research what wine will go best will the Italian food you're ordering. Don't be scared to ask the server, that's what they're there for. However, also be aware that they know it's easy to rack up your check with expensive wine. Italian food was meant to be enjoyed with wine, so do take some time to make sure you're getting a good wine for both the food and you're budget. Now that the Italian food and wine are squared away, the next thing to look for in a restaurant is ambience. There are really two ways to go on this one. The first is with a more traditional fine dining restaurant with dimmed lighting and maybe some romantic music in the background. This is an excellent choice. However, sometimes the most authentic Italian food can be found at small family owned restaurants with more of a home feeling about them. This can be equally as romantic as long as the restaurant isn't loud. There you can enjoy not only good Italian food, but it will also be a memorable experience for your date. If the restaurant doesn't have candles or a flower on the table you may be able to add that romantic touch by asking if you can bring your own candle and rose to decorate the table. Your date will be really impressed with your initiative when your table is distinctly nicer than the others. Following these steps will lead to an excellent Italian food experience for you and your date. Find the right restaurant and you're sure to have a romantic evening eating fine Italian food. Learn to Cook Italian Food on Vacation It used to be that vacations were all about site seeing and relaxing. Well, not anymore. Today the hottest trend in travel is taking courses to learn new things while on vacation. Nowhere is this more evident than in the cooking classes that have sprung up all over the world specifically for tourists. Many people travel to Italy on vacation in order to enjoy Italian food. Now though, many people not only want to enjoy Italian food while away, they want to learn how to cook it. Instead of bringing back souvenirs tourists are bringing back skills that they can put to use in their kitchens at home to whip up authentic Italian food. If you like Italian food then you may want to consider taking some classes to learn how to cook Italian food while in Italy. There are many resorts today that offer Italian food classes to their guests. There are even whole vacation packages focused around learning how to cook Italian food. You can take a tour through Italy and in each city or region that you stop in learn to make the local Italian food from the people who know it the best, the locals, not some tour guide or American teacher. If you decide during your vacation that you would like to try out a cooking class then ask the concierge or front desk at your hotel. They should be able to point you in the direction of some Italian food classes. Often resorts will have their own world class Italian food restaurants and it's not uncommon for them to open their doors to travelers who want to learn to make a dish from the menu. Be sure to ask the front desk at your resort about possible Italian food classes. Resorts don't always advertise these classes because they often fill up just on word of mouth. If you are feeling a little nervous about learning to cook Italian food on your vacation, relax. The classes are typically very small so you'll be able to get one on one help. This is truly a great opportunity to expand your knowledge of preparing Italian food from actual Italian chefs. Don't worry if you don't know the first thing about cooking. These classes are structured to accommodate people with little to no knowledge of Italian food or even cooking for that matter. If you would like to take a more advanced or intermediate class then ask about those options as well, but the majority of classes will be for beginners. These Italian food classes for vacationers will teach you how to make easy dishes that look more complicated than they actually are. They're not going try and teach you something complicated that will only end up frustrating you. They know that it can be intimidating learning to cook Italian food from professional chefs so they will keep things simple. On the other hand, they also understand that you probably want to go home and impress your friends with an Italian food dish that seems really fancy, so they will teach you dishes with a certain "wow" factor. The next time you plan a vacation to Italy, try to step off the beaten path and learn how to cook some authentic Italian food. The skills and memories you bring home will outlast any souvenir you could buy. Vacationing in Italy is not just about enjoying Italian food; it's about bringing Italian food home with you. How to Eat Italian Food in Italy If you want to get to the heart of Italian food, it's best to go the source. For an authentic experience you don't just need to get into the country of Italy, you need to get into Italian homes where traditional Italian food was birthed. That's right, if you want to get to the heart of the cuisine you need to go where it's cooked and served from the heart, in an actual Italian home. There are some differences to the layout of an Italian home cooked meal versus other cuisines that you'll want to be aware of. First off, real Italian food is not meant just to bring sustenance; it exists to bring family and friends together. An Italian meal is at least three to four courses and is not something to be rushed through. Meals in general are longer in Italy because of the cultural view that meal times are not just about feeding the body, but about feeding the soul. One of the most surprising things to foreigners about an Italian meal is the first course it typically the most filling. There is an antipasti or appetizer course, but there is no salad or soup to ease your way into the meal. Right from the antipasti diners delve into the primo or "first course". This is the course that will look most familiar to foreigners because it is where that delicious pasta that Italian food is famous for is served. This primo course is where most people's knowledge of Italian food ends. Few people realize that there is much more to Italian food than just this primo pasta. The next part of the meal is the secondo or "second course". Here is the main dish. Yes, that's right, the pasta that was just served in the primo, while filling, is not the main dish. The second course is where you'll find the meat of the meal. In the North there will most likely be veal, pork, or chicken. In the South and coastal regions you're more likely to find freshly caught fish. With this course will come a contorno or "side dish". This is where you'll get a chance to get your daily vegetables in. Traditionally this will come in the form of a fresh salad. To end the meal diners get not one, but two desserts. The first is a cheese and fruit course that will help prepare you for the dolce or main dessert. The dolce will be the rich dessert of the evening, such as cake. Of course, the meal will end with coffee or espresso, a classical capstone to the array of Italian food that has been served. However, there is one last course to come that foreigners may not be so familiar with. The last course is actually the digestive course and consists of liquors and is often referred to as the "coffee killer". After having an authentic dining experience as the one outlined above, foreigners will leave Italy with a much better grasp on what Italian food is. There is more to this fine cuisine than pasta and pizzas. In fact, by the time the "coffee killer" comes around the primo pasta course is starting to fade in memory, buried by the exciting meat dishes, fresh vegetables, fruits, cheeses, and coffees that have made Italian food one of the most sought after cuisines in Europe. The History of Pasta in Italian Food The most widely recognized element of Italian food today is pasta. Pasta is a signature of Italian food in all parts of the globe. It is easy to store and prepare and therefore became the ambassador of Italian food to the world. Pasta has a much older history than other common dishes in Italian food like pizza and tomato sauce. There are many myths surrounding the time when pasta actually entered into Italian food. The most common of these myths is that Marco Polo introduced it to the country from his extensive travels. However, pasta was already a part of Italian food during Marco Polo's life. To get to the heart of the matter you must travel even further back in history. In fact the most accepted theory on the introduction of pasta to Italian food takes us back to the eighth century. During this time the Arab invasions greatly influenced Italian food and are the most likely start of pasta's life in Italy. Since the wheat used for this early pasta thrived in Italy, it quickly spread and by the 1300's dried pasta was immensely popular and found all over the country. The appeal of pasta to Italian food was its nutrition and its long shelf life. These factors made pasta a great candidate for long ship voyages and because of this it was one of the first Italian foods to be introduced to the world. By the time pasta made its world debut much advancement had been made and there were many different shapes and forms of pasta being used in Italian food. The Italians had also developed ways to make pasta faster and more efficiently, making it an integral part of Italian food and Italian life. The next important phase of pasta's development in Italian food was the introduction of the tomato of course. Today pasta and tomato sauce go hand in hand when thinking of Italian food, but the marriage wasn't made until 1839. Prior to this time tomatoes were just being introduced to the world from the Americas and many Europeans believed them to be poisonous. It took a long time for people to trust the tomato enough to eat it and include it in Italian food. However, once the tomato was accepted it was welcomed with open arms and took off in Italian food, especially in the southern regions of Italy. Today one only has to look at the numbers to see just how big a role pasta plays in Italian food. Italians eat over three times as much pasta as Americans. Their pasta consumption is over sixty pounds per person per year. It's no wonder that pasta is considered the cornerstone of Italian food. In fact, pasta is used so extensively in Italian food that Italy must import most of its wheat in order to keep up with the demand. This popularity of pasta and Italian food has caused pasta to be mass produced. This has lead to an inferior quality of pasta being used in American Italian food. The best pasta is still found in Italy where they stick to the same recipes handed down through the generations. A true Italian food lover must try some authentic pasta made in Italy if they want to capture the authentic taste of Italian food. Italian Food on the Go When most people think of having an Italian meal they think of sitting down at a restaurant and making a night of it. There really isn't much of a fast option. For most people quick Italian food means throwing some pasta in a pot and opening a jar of Prego, or worse, throwing a frozen meal in the microwave. However, there is another way to experience fast Italian food and that is through Fazoli's. Fazoli's is a fast Italian food chain in the United States. They are currently serving up Italian food in 400 locations throughout the United States. Now it should be noted that I am using the term Italian food very loosely here. This is a great choice for people who like traditional Americanized Italian food, but not such a good choice for Italian food connoisseurs looking for a fine meal. The Italian food served here includes such classics as spaghetti and meatballs, fettuccine alfredo, lasagna, ravioli, pizza, subs, panini sandwiches, and salads. Many people like to catch one of these classic Italian food dishes through the drive through, but these people are missing part of what makes Fazoli's so popular and that is the breadsticks. If you dine inside a Fazoli's then you get unlimited free breadsticks. This is Fazoli's trademark and has helped them become popular in the United States. While Fazoli's is certainly not an option for quality Italian food, it is a good option to fill a craving for Italian food without having to go out to a restaurant and take up a good part of your night. There are not many options today for fast Italian food and to many people the whole concept of Fazoli's strikes them as odd at first. Fast food is generally seen as the domain of hamburgers and finger foods. For this reason Fazoli's has not grown as fast or become as popular as other fast food chains. If Fazoli's continues to grow and gain popularity then it may prompt others to start more quality fast Italian food chains. Fast food chains are expanding to include healthy menu items and more quality food for the money. So there may be more of a place for Fazoli's as the country expands its views on fast food in general. Fazoli's is cheap Italian food and you really do get what you pay for. Right now the only other real option for fast Italian food is to prepare it yourself. For some people making Italian food themselves defeats the purpose of fast Italian food so Fazoli's is a great option. With all the different innovations happening in contemporary Italian food it's possible that in the future there may be multiple options for getting fast Italian food of a good quality. In fact, in Italy there are already fast food restaurants that serve good quality Italian food. But, like most things in the world of Italian food, we can expect for it to be awhile before these developments make it to this side of the ocean. Until then we'll just have to make do with Fazoli's and resort to conventional restaurants to get fine Italian food. The Italian Food of Trentino-Alto Adige Italian food has a rich history. It draws on the influences of many different cultures and time periods. It is a great melting pot of different ideas all brought together by a distinctly Italian flavor that makes it Italian food, the most sought after cuisine in the world. The region of Trentino-Alto Adige is a great example of how history has affected and influenced Italian food. Prior to 1550 the food in this region was known for its simplicity. Food was simply meant for sustenance and a distinct regional flavor had yet to emerge. However, that all changed in 1550. That is the time of the Council of Trent. The Council of Trent was an Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church. The council was held in response to the growing Protestant Reformation in an effort to counter it. It is hard to imagine that such a religious and political event would have any affect whatsoever on the local Italian food. However, when all of these high ranking church officials came to the area, they brought with themselves a taste for fine food. It is this event that first taught the region to appreciate the art of fine cooking. This is a great example of how history has shaped the current state of Italian food. The cuisine here was also influenced by the Republic of Venice and the Habsburg Empire. Other influences include that of the Slav, Austrian, and Hungarian cuisines. It's hard to imagine now that Italian food was shaped by these cuisines that many people think of as distinctly different than Italian food. This region is known for its use of fresh water fish in contrast to much of the rest of the country that uses salt water fish in much of their cuisine. It's also interesting to note that despite the foreign influences, it is this area that most popularizes the dishes that are traditionally thought of as Italian food such as pasta, tomatoes, and olive oil. However, in addition to these commonly thought of Italian food dishes is a host of other foods such as potatoes, dumplings, and sauerkraut made from scratch. Goulash is the most commonly served Sunday meal. Health conscious travelers should also note that lard is still a very popular ingredient in the area. Those concerned with saturated fat should be sure to enquire about the ingredients of the Italian food they are enjoying in this region. But it is important to note that many chefs find that lard is the best ingredient for certain situations and the Italian food chefs in this region certainly feel that way. There are some specific dishes that are unique to this region. One is potato dumplings with ricotta. You might not think of dumplings when thinking of Italian food, but they are quite common to the area. They even have canederli, a specific dumpling unique to the area that is made with leftover bread. This region also boasts its own regional sauerkraut as well as a stuffed chicken dish. This region of Italy is a great example of how external forces have shaped Italian food. The style of cuisine here is an excellent blend of the popular Italian food and the unique authentic flavors of regional Italian food. Cheap Italian Food in Milan One of the highlights of traveling to Italy is naturally the Italian food. Milan in particular is a fashion and food capital of the world. With so many choices for good quality Italian food it can be hard to decide where to eat at times. Travelers are also frequently overwhelmed with how much there is to do in Milan or may only be in the city for a few days. The food here can also be very expensive and not for the budget conscious traveler. However, there must be an alternative to the ever ubiquitous McDonald's? Surely there is a way to eat cheap Italian food in Milan? Time and budget constraints often prevent tourists from enjoying good Italian food, but that need not be the case in Milan. Milan is home to yet another Italian food innovation. It is quite simply known as Ciao. Ciao is a fast Italian food restaurant that serves up fresh Italian food made on the spot with a friendly price tag. Unlike American fast food chains, Ciao serves quality Italian food. For those a little leery of anyplace claiming to have quality Italian food fast, let me point out that there is not set menu at Ciao. The menu changes daily in order to provide the freshest Italian food that is in season. Ciao serves all manner of hot Italian foods along with snacks, alcohol, and espresso. It's a self service restaurant so you just fill up your plate and then pay at the register. With the low price tag Ciao also presents tourists with an opportunity to try different Italian foods without worrying about the money should you not like it. Another great feature of Ciao that endears it to American tourists is the fact that it is open all day. Ciao is one of the only options for Italian food after lunch and before dinner. In Italy many of the Italian food establishments close between meals leaving only the American fast food imports open. If you're a tourist and visiting Milan for the first time, then it can be hard to fit everything into your schedule and get meal times in when most of the restaurants are open. Plus, many people don't want to spend the time it takes to eat at a typical Italian food restaurant, choosing to instead see the sites. It's a real shame that people save up for vacations to Italy and end up eating at McDonald's because of lack of time or money. Many people don't know a place like Ciao exists before they leave home so take this opportunity to plan it into your Italian vacation now. In fact, you won't even have to stop looking at the sites while eating quality Italian food at Ciao. Be sure to check out the Ciao outlet at Piazza Duomo. Get your food and head over to the third floor of the Duomo Center and grab a table. The view from this vantage point is simply amazing and will provide a nice backdrop to your meal. Italian food doesn't have to be expensive when in Milan and you don't have to carve large blocks of time out of your vacation in order to experience fresh Italian food, just go to the nearest Ciao and soon you will be dining on quality Italian food in the heart of Milan. Buying Italian Food Online There seems to be a trend today to return to authentic Italian food. People are no longer satisfied with the Americanized Italian food that is often served at restaurants, especially chain restaurants. There is also a move to make more and more Italian food at home. People like to have control over the food and make healthy substitutions or personalize Italian food recipes. This is due in large part to the internet. Before the internet people who wanted to make or buy authentic Italian food had to hope that an Italian family or international market had setup shop in their town or a neighboring city. Also, the Americanized version of Italian food became popular because it was easy and cheap to make. However, with the internet people can now learn online in the comfort of their own homes the secrets to making good Italian food and now that shoppers can buy directly from the source it is cheaper to buy ingredients and prepared food. The internet is truly opening doors not just in Italian food, but in all international cuisine. But, you do need to be careful when shopping for Italian food online. The first thing you want to do is make sure that the vendor you are buying from is as close to the source as possible. If you are looking for a specific ingredient then look for a vendor that specializes in that particular area. This will help you maintain an authentic taste as well as cut on the costs if you're not dealing with a middle man. See how long the vendor has been in business and what their experience is with Italian food. There are dozens of these Italian food specialty shops online, you just need to find the ones that you feel most comfortable with. Another thing you want to pay special attention to is the shipping charges, especially if you are buying from another country. In Italian food there are many non perishable items and you will want to buy them in bulk since it is cheaper to ship it in the same order than to order it again. Avoid any online vendors that charge you shipping per item since all your purchases will be shipped together. The bulk of the shipping should be charged with the first item you order and rise gradually with each additional item. Many vendors will just charge flat rate shipping or you may be able to find specials with free shipping. Make sure you also read the fine print to understand all their charges. You don't want to be surprised by any processing charges or other extra fees. When buying Italian food online it is also important to look at the company's return policy. A vendor should be willing to take back any food that is spoiled or ruined upon delivery. Italian food depends on fresh ingredients and online shopping is a great way to get not only the ingredients, but whole Italian food dishes already prepared. Just make sure you don't get stuck paying for Italian food that isn't fresh. These days online Italian food companies have mastered shipping fresh food to make sure it arrives fresh at your doorstep. Demand the best from the vendors you deal with. If you haven't already, take the plunge and try buying Italian food online. You might discover a new favorite, or experience another side of Italian food without having to go out to a fancy Italian food restaurant. Holiday Italian Food Have you ever wanted to celebrate the holidays with Italian food? Maybe you want to try something different this year and love Italian food, or maybe you've been invited to spend the holidays with Italian friends or are fortunate enough to actually be spending the holidays in Italy. What Italian food is appropriate and traditional? Well, like many other cultures, Italians have certain food traditions for certain holidays. The biggest tradition is with Christmas and it starts on Christmas Eve. The traditional Christmas Eve meal doesn't include a lot of Italian food that foreigners may be familiar with. That's because the Italians observe a type of symbolic fast which actually equates to more of a light dinner. This means that there will be no Italian food that includes the typical meats. Instead the Italian food will be centered more around seafood including fish, snails, and frogs. That may sound a little more French than Italian, but it's a great time to experience some excellent traditional Italian food that is hard to find outside of Italy. The next day on Christmas the food may be a little more familiar. The first course is a very well known Italian food, tortellini. This pasta dish filled with meat is more in keeping with what most people envision when thinking of Italian food. After the meal dessert consists of one of two types of cake, either panettone or pandoro. If you're in Milan or spending the holidays with a family from Milan it will be panettone. This cake like bread takes days to make and is an Italian food that not many people know of, despite it being a symbol of Milan. The other traditional cake is pandoro, a sweet bread that is often made to look like a mountain complete with white sugar icing giving it a snowy finish. Christmas is a great time to taste the sweeter side of Italian food. Easter Sunday is another holiday that brings families around the table. The holiday starts out with breakfast. Not too many people think of breakfast when thinking of Italian food, but Easter Sunday starts off with a feast of salami and boiled eggs with cakes and pizzas all washed down with fine wine. That night the Italian food of choice will be dishes that rely on lamb, avoiding other meats. The evening will be finished off with wine and cakes. The last holiday that has importance to those who love Italian food is St. Joseph's Day. This holiday is in commemoration of St. Joseph saving Sicily from famine. This holiday centers on a rather unknown Italian food, the fava bean. It was this bean that saved Sicily from starving. So, while this bean is not native to Italy, there are many Italian food dishes that are centered on it in celebration of St. Joseph's Day. The day is spent giving food to the needy, eating doughnut like pastries and enjoying good Italian food. Anytime is a good time for Italian food, but the holidays really make authentic Italian food shine as families get together to celebrate with traditional dishes. Try celebrating the holidays with Italian food and you'll be introduced to a side of the cuisine that many don't know exist. Anchovies in Italian Food Anchovies are a very important part of the flavor of Italian food. However, many people, even fans of Italian food claim to not like anchovies. Some people have bad memories of smelly little fish on pizza that have forever tainted their view of Italian food that includes anchovies. Unbeknownst to many of these people is the fact that anchovies are widely used in Italian food and it's likely that some of their favorite Italian food dishes are made with anchovies. These small and often misunderstood fish are used extensively in Italian food and there comes a point when it is impossible to enjoy Italian food without running into these little guys. Anchovies are a small saltwater fish. They are only about three inches long but pack quite a flavor. There are six different species of anchovies that are used in Italian food. From April to September is the Sicilian anchovy season and these species are lighter in flavor than the Spanish anchovies that make up a bulk of the anchovies used in Italian food. Anchovies must quickly be preserved in order to keep the flavor that is wanted for Italian food intact. The most traditional way to preserve anchovies is packed in salt. This is the best way to guarantee an authentic Italian food flavor. Soon after the fish are caught they are cleaned and washed in salt brine and then set out to dry. The fish are then layered in round tins with sea salt in between each layer. The tins are then left to season for up to two months. A weight is placed on top of the tins in order to compress the fish and remove any extra fluids and fat from the fish. After the curing time is up they are sealed up and shipped off to be used in different Italian food dishes around the world. Another way to preserve anchovies is to pack them in olive oil. This is similar to the above method of preserving, except that after the seasoning period is over the fish are again washed and the scales, skin, and bones are removed before placing the fish in jars or tins of olive oil. There are other ways to preserve anchovies for use in Italian food, but none are as popular as these first two. Anchovy paste is readily available, however this paste does not have the anchovy flavor that is desired for Italian food and instead ends up tasting just plain salty. When using anchovies in Italian food it is important to rinse them first. They are much too salty the way you buy them and you want to wash away some of the excess salt. If you are shopping for anchovies to use in a specific Italian food dish, make sure to buy just enough for the meal you are planning. Anchovies do not last very long once opened and should be used right away to ensure the flavor. If you have leftover anchovies then wash them and put them in a jar of olive oil. Seal the jar and place it in the refrigerator. This will only buy you five more days but if the fish are left in the tin after opening they will begin to get a metallic flavor that will ruin your Italian food. Now you know a little more about this Italian food favorite. The next time you see anchovies listed as an ingredient at your favorite Italian food restaurant go on and give it a try; you might be surprised at how good it is.
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