Traditional Foods Of Northern Italy Biology Essay

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The traditional foods of Northern Italy are largely based on meats, cheeses, butter (lard), rice, and fish (near the coast). Because of the availability of these products in the north many dishes are specialized in this region, more so than in the southern region of Italy (Phillips, 2010). A variety of dishes include bollito misto, a meat dish, very popular in the north. Fonduta is a melted cheese dip consisting of milk, egg, and white truffles. Risotto alla Milanese is creamy, short-grained rice, which is blended with meat stock, saffron, and cheese (Demetri & Nascimbeni, 2008). In the southern parts of Italy tomatoes and olive oil are the dominant ingredients of many dishes. Pasta is one of the main staples in this area. Traditional foods of the south include spaghetti with pommarola, a renowned tomato sauce. Caponata is a dish made with eggplant, olives, capers, and celery. There is also the famous pizza that comes from Naples (Phillips, 2010).

The traditional foods of India are based largely on its extensive use of herbs and spices. India is also known for its great variety of cuisine dishes. The staple foods of India are wheat, rice, and pulses with chana. Some of the most popular dishes in different parts of India include Bengali cuisine. This dish is admired for its use of panchphoron, a term used to reference the five essential spices of mustard, fenugreek seed, cumin seed, aniseed, and black cumin seed. Another traditional food is Punjab, which contains a large variety of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Wheat is the primary food of Punjabis. The traditional food of South India is based largely on rice. Most of South India's dishes contain sambhar, rasam, vegetable curry, and pachadi (yogurt). The dishes of Southern India are usually hotter than in the north. (Indian Food, 2005)

The main component of traditional Korean food is kimchi, which is a fermented vegetable dish. There are hundreds of different kinds of kimchi and it is a condiment served with every meal. Another dish of Korea is pulgogi, which are thin strips of beef marinated in soy sauce, garlic, onions, sugar, and black pepper. Pibimpap is stir-fried vegetables mixed with rice and red pepper sauce. Each region has specific dishes that are unique to the climate. Seafood and chicken are eaten most often, because red meat is both scarce and expensive. (Hidden Korea, 2008)

In Japan rice is the most important crop grown. Japan has developed a type of rice that is short grained and sticky, allowing for many different uses, known as Japanese Rice. Some of the traditional foods of Japan include sushi, okonomiyaki, sashimi, tempura, and sukiyaki. Because Japan is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, seafood is a primary ingredient. Much of the vegetation, including eggplant, is gathered from the mountainous regions of Japan. Kobe beef is also a delicacy of Japan coming from the capital city of Kobe in the Hyogo province. Wagyu beef is the most prized beef in Japan, going so far as to classify it as a national treasure. Wagyu is used to produce Kobe, matzukya, and hokkido beef. (Japan, 2010)

Traditional German foods use products most widely available in Germany from the earliest times. Because of limited growing seasons wheat and barley were among the most popular plants grown. Cow, sheep, and goats were used as the primary sources of their milk, cheese, and butter, along with their main sources of meat (McGavin, 2010). Potatoes are another staple food in Germany. Each region of Germany has their own special way of preparing potatoes. Popular dishes of Germany include schweinebraten, a pork roast, usually served with boiled potatoes or dumplings. Wiener schnitzel is also a popular thin fillet dish. Another traditional dish includes bratwurst, a grilled sausage, served with ketchup, onion, and mustard. (German Dishes, 2009)

Question 2:

In the early morning rich tea is usually consumed followed by breakfast, which include rice or bread, pickled fruit or vegetables, as well as sambal, a dish filled with cooked vegetables, lentils, and a variety of spices. Breakfast usually lasts between 9am and 11am. By 4pm or 5pm snacks are eaten, consisting of sweet and spicy foods, along with coffee or tea. The main course is dinner, served between 7pm to 9pm. This meal would include a rice dish, vegetables, and legume or meat dish, along with baked or fried bread. Dessert consists of fruit or sweet milk-based pudding. In order to enjoy all the dishes and differing tastes, all courses are served at the same time. (Meals with International Guests-India, 2006)

The preparation methods of India for a variety of dishes are cooked the same way. It begins with frying onion, ginger, garlic, or other spices. Next meats, vegetables, different flavorings, such as yogurt are added. Finally flavorings, including lemon juice and herbs, like cilantro are added (India, 2010). One of the most famous traditional cooking equipment used is the tandoor, which is a giant clay pot used to cook meat or bread on the sides of the pot (Jeanettehauser, 2010).

The meal patterns of Italy consist of three main meals a day. The first meal is a light breakfast called la prima colazione, which usually consists of bread, or a pancake along with cheese or honey, with olives or dates. IL pranza or la seconda colazione is lunch that consists of pork, egg, or fish. This is served with vegetables or mushrooms, using fruit for dessert. The main course of the day is in the evening, known as la cena. It begins with an appetizer and six or seven main courses follow it. To finish there are usually some sort of dessert, including their famous gelato. In modern Italy bread with jam and a hot beverage, such as coffee or tea is eaten for breakfast. And lunch has become more of the main meal. (Italy, 2010)

The preparation of different foods in Italy included frying pans, the use of which date back to early Roman times, known as patella. They were used to prepare grain dishes (Cooking Utensils, 2010). Another popular tool used and continues to be used is a mezzaluna, which is a half-moon shaped knife with two handles on either side, is used to chop vegetables and herbs quickly and easily (Sturken, 2009).

The meal patterns of Japan consist of three meals per day. Breakfast usually contains rice with nori, dried purplish seaweed; this may also contain eggs. Other common food items are soups, pickled vegetables, and pickled plums. For lunch Japanese eat rice and whatever leftovers from the previous night. Noodles topped with bits of meat and vegetables are also a popular meal for lunch. Dinner along with other meals always includes soup, rice, and vegetables. All of the main courses, as well as the soups are served at once. Most of the time soup is either eaten first to stimulate one's appetite or at the end to serve as a cleanser. Dessert is usually a variety of fruits. (Meals with International Guests-Japan, 2006)

The traditional methods of preparing food in Japan consist of dividing foods into five color groups, green, red, yellow, white, and black-purple. There are also six tastes that are most commonly used, which include bitter, sour, sweet, hot, salty, and delicate. Another cooking method is tempura, which is a cooking method of coating cut or sliced foods into batter and quickly frying it (Japanese Cooking Methods, 2010).

The meal patterns of Iran consist of three main meals a day. Breakfast is usually light consisting of unleavened bread, cheese, jam, butter, sometimes eggs, either boiled or fried. The main meal is served at one in the afternoon. To begin the meal, vegetables, such as radishes, fresh basil, mint, coriander, etc. is served along with unleavened bread and white cheese. The main dishes usually consist of rice with both a meat and vegetable or fruit stew. For dessert, sweets are eaten, along with tea. The evening meal is usually light it might include leftovers from the afternoon or bread and cheeses (Beeman, 2005). Meals are usually eaten in large platters on top of the floor rug. And people of different sex, if not related, do not sit next to each other when eating (Iran, 2010).

The traditional preparation methods of cooking Iranian food did not require many different utensils. The most commonly used items were simply pots and pans. During ancient days the foods prepared in Iran were over campfire (Persian Cuisine, 2010).

The Chinese eat four meals a day. For breakfast a popular dish to eat is salted vegetables with porridge and buns. Lunch usually consists of noodle soup, dim sun, and rice with vegetables. Dinner is the biggest meal of the day, which consists of noodles, rice and three or four hot dishes. Their last meal is usually some porridge and dim sun before they go to bed. In China everyone eats together during their meals. The food is set out and everyone takes their own portion. Chopsticks are used instead of knives or forks to eat their meals (China, 2010).

Traditional preparation methods of China consist of many different techniques. One of the most popular tools used in Chinese cooking is the wok. A wok is a large round, deep pan. It was and still is one of the most useful utensils used. It can perform many different tasks, such as stewing, steaming, braising, smoking, and stir-frying. It was designed to perfectly fit on the traditional stove of China, which was made from clay or mud and used charcoal or wood to burn (Chinese Cooking Utensils and Tools- The Indispensable Wok, 2010).

Question 3:

In India the major religion is Hinduism. This has a major effect on what the Indian people eat and reasons for eating, or not eating, different foods. Because of their spiritual beliefs, they do not eat foods they believe inhibit physical and spiritual development. Many Hindus are vegetarian, even though it is not specifically prohibited to exclude all meat from their diet. Some animals, such as cows, are considered sacred and not eaten. In some regions of India foods, such as snails, crab, fowl, cranes, duck, camel, boar, deformed fish, and snake heads are prohibited. Milk, yogurt, and ghee-clarified butter produced from cows are considered naturally pure. Some foods that are not as pure can be made pure with the preparation of products such as ghee-clarified butter. Some foods and beverages can never be purified; these products are beef and alcohol. (Kittler and Sucher, 2000)

Indian meal practices consist of offering all food given to eat to God. This is done by placing their food before deities worshiped and reciting prayers (shlokas). It can then be eaten and considered blessed food. To further purify the meal water is sprinkled over the plate before the meal is even started. Five pieces of food is placed on the side of the table. This is done to recognize that a debt is owed to the "divine forces," for their grace and protection. Finally, when a birthday is being celebrated, the symbol "OM" is placed by "Happy Birthday," and instead of a candle, a lamp is lit and blown out. The lamp symbolizes new life, a spreading of knowledge and new beginning. (ElGindy, 2010)

In the Jewish culture there are many restrictions as to what can be eaten. To begin, meats not allowed as part of a Jewish diet include animals that do not chew their cud and have split hooves. These animals include rabbit, pig, horse, camel, dog, and cat. They are not allowed to eat any fish that do not have scales and fins. Fish, such as catfish, swordfish, etc. are not allowed. Another restriction includes that dairy and meat product cannot be eaten together, they must be eaten separately (Hieges, 1998). The meat that is eaten must be kosher. In order for this to occur the animal must be slaughtered quickly and under a religious authority's supervision. (Israel, 2010)

Kosher households have two different sets of dishes and silverware, one set is used for meals that have meat and the other set for dairy products. These sets of dishes are also kept separate (Israel, 2010). Meal and dining practices used by the Jewish people during the Passover include special dishes and cooking utensils, used only for the Passover. There are a variety of wines and juices spread around the table for everyone to consume. There is also an empty wine glass placed in the middle of the table for Elijah. (Katz, 2010) Along with other foods, leavened bread is restricted during Passover. As a substitute, unleavened bread called matzo is used. (Israel, 2010)

The Chinese had a great effect on the Japanese way of eating. Because of Buddhism, no one was allowed to eat meat, in the 700's A.D. As a result sushi became the popular dish of Japan. The Japanese way of eating grew on vegetarianism, and as a result established much of the eating habits of the Japanese culture today. (Japan, 2010)

In Japan, the most important holiday celebrated is the New Year, Shogastu. Foods called osechi are made and placed in decorated boxes stacked together called jubako. Each of the boxes contains compartments of different foods. Some of these foods include glazed sardines, bamboo shoots, sweet black beans, etc. It is believed that these foods with provide good fortune for the years to come. (Japan, 2010)

One main religion in China is Confucianism. It is important in Confucianism that there is a perfect blend of ingredients, herbs, and condiments. The purpose of a meal was to be nutritious and a pleasant experience for everyone. To do this there should be a perfect combination of color, flavor, and texture. (Dining with Confucius, 2009)

There are many dining practices in China based on Confucianism. One practice followed is that all foods must be cut into bit-size pieces. Knives are not set on the dining table because of it is considered poor taste. Eating alone is also never encouraged. Even today the Chinese share their food with friends and family. (Chinese Food: History, Popularity, Healthy, 2005)

The main religion of Italy is Catholicism. There are not many restrictions on eating practices in Italy based on the Catholic religion. The main restriction in Catholicism is not eating meat on Fridays. This was practiced in memory of Christ's death. There was a time when not even fish could be eaten on Friday; but because of the burden fisherman had of not being able to sell enough fish, the Catholic Church aloud fish to be eaten. Because fish is a cold-blooded animal, as opposed to a warm-blooded animal, such as beef, chicken, and other meats, the Catholic Church could rationalize their decision. (Roman Catholic Traditions of Eating Fish on Friday, 2009)

In every village in Italy a celebration of a saint takes place. Some of the most popular items eaten during saint's day celebrations are roast suckling pig. During major holiday's, such as Easter, roast baby lamb is among the most popular dishes eaten (Italy, 2010).

Question 4:

This was a great class. It was a great experience being able to cook all the traditional dishes of different cultures. I learned a lot about many different cultures. It was a class I would definitely recommend for others to take. Many of the dishes I have made are dishes I continue to make at home. It is encouraging to be able to apply what I have learned in this class to my own personal life.

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Beeman, William. Iran. 2005.

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Kittler, Pamela. Sucher, Kathryn. Religious Food Practices. 2000.

ElGindy, Gihan. Hindu Dietary Practices: Feeding the Body, Mind, and Soul. Alloy Education. 2010.

Heiges, Ruth. Kosher Food. 1998.

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