Italian Cuisine

The cuisine of Italy, just like its people, is diverse and it is held in high regard throughout the world. The different regions of the Italian peninsula have various local and regional food specialties, but many dishes formerly relegated to regional status have gained national (and in some cases international) popularity, thus resulting in a more national Italian cuisine.
Most people recognize some of the main Italian or Italian-inspired foods that are also very popular elsewhere in the world, such things as pizza, various types of pasta, spaghetti and meatballs, minestrone, and other similar foods. There are also traditional Italian foods that are less well-known (but delicious nonetheless!)

While the roots of Italian cuisine go back as far as the 4th century B. C., the event that truly revolutionized Italian food culture–and for the benefit of all of us!–has been the discovery of the New World and the importation of various vegetables into Europe, like potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, and corn, most of which are essential parts of Italian cuisine as we know it today.

Italian dining habits involve long, complex meals, as most Italians traditionally see eating as an excellent opportunity to take the time and socialize, spend quality time with their families and friends, and genuinely enjoy their food. Nine-course meals are not unheard of–especially if one considers the aperitivo (aperitifs), caffe (coffee) and digestivo (“digestive” drinks) as separate courses. Coffee, especially Italian espresso, plays a very important role in Italian food culture, and Italy is known worldwide for its excellent coffee.