Italy is relatively small, roughly twice the size of the state of Georgia. Yet, it houses one of the most varied geographical conformations and climates. Result: an incredibly diverse territory, in terms of landscape, culture and of course food.
Diversity is also related to the fact that Italy, believe it or not, is actually a young nation, that was unified only in 1861. To give you an idea just 2.5% of the population used to speak Italian at that time. Up until then the territory had been divided into city-states, if not ruled by foreign powers. It was a land where identity and fighting with neighbours was the norm.
Italy is an incredibly rich land offering perfect pastures for animal raising and dairy products, grain prairies, rich soil for fruit and vegetable growing, olive trees, vines and the Mediterranean sea with it’s impressive seafood and salt productions. Incredible ingredients are the building blocks for a magnificent cuisine.
Italy’s eclectic food culture never ceases to amaze. You can go from eating sausage, sauerkraut and beer in the far north east, to eating couscous in Sicily, going back to alpine cheeses in Valle d’Aosta to buffalo mozzarella in Campania. You’ve got fresh egg pasta in the north and dry pasta in the south. Mineral wines grown on Vulcano soil, rich red wines from the heart of Tuscany and sea-influenced whites grown on steep terraces facing the sea in Liguria.
It is very common when travelling across Italy to notice that even between two bordering small towns, food traditions are extremely different and locals take a lot of pride in it, obviously describing their own cuisine as unique and better than all the rest.
Same thing happens with recipes. Take an internationally renowned staple pasta sauce such as Ragù alla Bolognese for instance. Ask anyone in Bologna and they will tell you about their own family version. There are those who add garlic to the soffritto and others who believe it’s blasphemy. Some will only use pork, others a mixture of pork and beef. Some will add mortadella, milk or, god forbid, cream!!
Don’t miss out on our Stories exploring one of the richest and most diverse food cultures on the planet.