European Cuisine Information About Europe Cultural Studies Essay

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Europe is the second smallest continent located in the northern hemisphere, containing westernmost peninsula of Eurasia. It is surrounded by Arctic Ocean in the north, Atlantic Ocean in the west, Mediterranean Sea in the south and Black sea to the south-eastern side. Europe spreads over 10,180,000 square km and contains 50 states, among which Russia is the largest. As far as population is concerned, Europe stands third after Asia and Africa respectively

Following is a map of Europe:-

The council of Europe has 47 member countries out of which only 27 member states are in EU 'Europe' is used in a geopolitically way which refers to the European Union. One of the theories suggests that, Europe is derived from Greek language, which means Europe (eur-wide) and ope(eye), which means wide gazing.

The European Union is set up with the aim of ending the frequent and bloody wars between neighbours, which culminated in the Second World War. As of 1950, the European Coal and Steel Community begins to unite European countries economically and politically in order to secure lasting peace. 

In 1960s sees the emergence of 'youth culture', with groups such as The Beatles attracting huge crowds of teenage fans wherever they appear, helping to stimulate a cultural revolution and widening the generation gap. It is a good period for the economy, helped by the fact that EU countries stop charging custom duties when they trade with each other. They also agree joint control over food production, so that everybody now has enough to eat - and soon there is even surplus agricultural produce.

In 1981, Greece becomes the 10th member of the EU and Spain and Portugal follow five years later. In 1987 the Single European Act is signed. This is a treaty which provides the basis for a vast six-year programme aimed at sorting out the problems with the free-flow of trade across EU borders and thus creates the 'Single Market'. There is major political upheaval when, on 9 November 1989, the Berlin Wall is pulled down and the border between East and West Germany is opened for the first time in 28 years, this leads to the reunification of Germany when both East and West Germany are united in October 1990.

With the collapse of communism across central and Eastern Europe, Europeans become closer neighbours. In 1993 the Single Market is completed with the the 'four freedoms' of: movement of goods, services, people and money. 

This emerging change helped in indulging different culture by way of food, eating habits, ingredients and fashion in Europe. People from different boundaries brought their eating style and culture with them which later on was accepted by other around them.

This helped in introducing people with new ingredients and new tastes. Some of the food items which later on was accepted world wide.

This change setup foundation of modern European cuisine.

Now let us study about European cuisine

European cuisine is a versatile mixture of dishes derived from Medieval cuisine, which period roughly around 5th and 16th century with changes as per time it is still been very popular in modern age.

Eg: Bread was very popular as staple food but now very famous in European cuisine.

One of the reason for this statement is; before in olden age for cooking food people use to rely on resources available in their region and produce, now due to globalisation; availability of goods is easy an thus it has enhanced in popularity of European cuisine

All of the European countries have their distinct styles of cooking methods, equipment they use for cooking, recipe to cook food and specialities of their own region which defer as per availability of resources and weather.

This influenced in popularity of different cuisine in European cuisine.

Lithuania cuisine:- Lithuanian cuisine is notable for its diversity of dishes from potatoes and meat. As it was already said a potato is the basis of Lithuanian cuisine. A lot of dishes are cooked from it. Among them there are kugelis (a potato pudding), shvilpicai (potato sticks) and also a potato sausage which is called vedere

Belgium:- famous for its chocolates. Besides chocolate it is also famous for dishes like mussels, waffles and lamb stews

Hungary:- Famous for its national dish goulash. One of the highlight of Hungarian cuisine is that it's spiciest cuisine to be in Europe

Spain:- Famous for starters like paella, tapas, chorizo, calameritos.

Aoung snacks Calameritos Fritos (fried baby squid); Jamon Serrano (cured ham) sliced thinly from the bone is desirable. The famous cold soup Gazpacho - is also made in Spain.

Greece:- Among very famous cuisines in Europe which consists full of vegetables, beans and pulses. Signature dishes such as the casseroles, Moussaka and Ratatouille. Liquor named ouzo is very famous in Greece.

France:-Most famous and more deeply rooted in modern era of European cuisine. fois gras, scallops, lobster, pate, truffles and snails here are the best in the world. Its has perfect blend of wine ,cheese, bread with food.

Italy:- Very famous for its pastas, pizza, risotto along with other food items like cheeses coffee and ice creams.

Reference :(

Western European countries like Italy, Germany France, Spain, , Switzerland Denmark, and England these countries were know for their cooking because these countries have their own cooking style and speciality of cooking and ingredients they use.

Country like Italy was the one who had the most influence on European cuisine. Because Italian cooking started with basic ingredients like cow's milk cheese, butter, pastas, rice and concluded with wines or coffee like cappuccino. Most famous dishes like pizza from northern side and in south it was risotto and polenta this food was comparatively fast to cook and also ingredients were available easily.

Here is brief explanation of two famous national cuisines of Europe which have played great role in making European cuisine so popular


2- Italy


French cuisine is know as one of the finest and most popular cuisines in the world.

One of the reason is because of their creativity in food and pioneer food ingredients.

French cuisine offers a rich experience that ranges from simple, rustic country dishes to elaborate gastronomic feasts. Based in a complex history of cultural influences and a wide array of ingredients, it is limited only by the imagination of the cook preparing it.

Ovens were introduced in Kitchen by 12th century due to popularity of spit roasting. By 14th century sauces got importance in cooking


· Béchamel- Made with milk, thickened with a white roux (butter and flour).

· Espagnole- Made with brown stock (usually veal), thickened with a brown roux.

· Veloute- Made with a white stock, thickened with a blonde roux (butter and flour slightly browned).

· Allemande- based on velouté sauce, is thickened with egg yolks and heavy cream.

Lengthy French menu included fish, meat, poultry and less of vegetable items.

Later by 17th centuries as to introduce new dishes cooks from Italy were employed in France. By 18th century rich society and famous elites started taking more interest in food and it became more of prestige issue also. If the food was good Chefs use to get respect and appreciation.

By the 20th century, French cuisine went to its peak and lot of attention was been given to perfection. One of the reasons can be

Introduction of many books of cookery.

Chef Auguste Escoffier publishes Le Guide Culinaire which simplifies and systematizes the sauces and cooking methods that compose elegant cuisine

Ref : Food culture in France by Julia Abramson 2007 published pg 3

French cooking involves a large number of techniques, some extremely complicated, that serve as basics. Any cook will tell you that French food will not tolerate shortcuts in regard to these fundamentals. Because mastery of sauces or pastry doughs is the center of the culinary arts, recipes themselves remain classic and constant.

French cooking on its own is easy, like cooking steak gammon but their garnish was completely different to it. Garnishes usually enhance taste of main food item and give great experience to the one whom it is served. Between 15th and 16th centuries, French cuisine introduced a variety of new dishes around the world.

*Chicken Liver Pâté with Port & Pistachios:- made with butter chicken and Pistachios *Steak frites;- beef steak with fries

Speciality of French cuisine became its sauces given with main food item and its garnishes which make the food more eyes appealing.

For eg: Duck breast given served with broccoli sauce and sauteed oyster mushrooms.

Ingredients played vital role in French food, as per climate change in the south of France different flavours are obtain of herbs and fig of fruits and vegetable. South is more of mountainous regions , so it is full of rainy season which helps in growing lot of fruits and vegetable.

As north of France is more close to sea lots of fish can be found like halibut, salmon and cod.

France is also famous for its wine because of its weather which gives distinct flavour to its grapes grown in its soil. France also have famous wine yards which are professional in making famous and expensive wine like Chadone de Pompedor made from white grapes.

Use of butter, olive oil is commonly used in French cuisine which gives light and special flavour to food.

In this cuisine there is also use of herbs which give distinct flavour and taste.

Some of commonly used herbs are thyme, rosemary, tarragons, lemon thyme, basils, star anise, chives, juniper berries and cinnamon.

Use of vegetables like carrots, French beans, artichokes, shallot, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, turnips, aubergines, etc. often served as garnish with main course like lamb, pork, veal, fish, duck etc which gives eye appealing colour and flavour to the final dish for example duck breast served with broccoli pureed and duck pie(conflict duck along with puff pastry).

Some dishes are complimented with potatoes

for e.g.: cod fillet with crushed potatoes, spinach with shallots accompanied with cod and Dove sole served with potato chips and watercress accompaniments tartar sauce.

Also Cheese is famous in French cuisine. It is served with soups

i.e. fish soups with Gruyere cheese

Cheese may be used in sauces or used as garnish.

Cheese is also considered as one of the course in French, classical menu. It is called fromage originating from Belgium and the north of France. The name literally means "fresh cheese" in French. Some Very popular cheeses of France are Roquefort, camembert, etc.

There is common use of cooking wines like red or white to make sauces like lamb navran, sauté de veur, Also liquors like brandy and Madeira are used in this cooking. Wines are also used in marinating and tenderizing meat

i.e. use of red wine in foie gras terrine in order to give good taste, flavour and colour.

In French cuisine, salad is also considered playing vital role in French meal

i.e., chicken Caesar, salad contains Caesar dressing made from mayonnaise with garlic and vinaigrette flavour with chicken and cos lettuce with cheese.

Salads like rocket salad served with balsamic and salad oil dressing are common.

Famous French commodities:

Andouilli: French sausage made up from pig's intestines and stomach along with other parts of animal like breast, neck, head liver or heart.

Aisy cendre: Soft cheese made from unpasteurised cows milk in Burgundy region of France. It has strong earthy flavour as it is matured under a layer of ashes of vine shoots.

Baron: A cut of mutton or lamb cooked in oven or by spit roasting. Traditionally served with green beans, potatoes and flageolets. It is also known as one of the famous roasts in French cuisine.

Bricquebec: Originated from Normandy it's a traditional cheese made up of cows milk which is later moulded uncooked.

Oysters: Often found in atlantic coast of france is a saltwater bivalve molluse,

Chicory: Is a winter vegetable found in north of France.

Barley sugar: A traditional sweet or candy from France. Yellow or orange in colour with an extract of barley added as flavouring. It is similar to hard caramel candy in its texture and taste

Oyster mushroom A greyish brown mushroom often grow on trees and stumps. Its in shape of oysters.

Pine nut: The edible seeds of pines are often found in south of France.

Rosemary: Is a herb often used to make sauces and for marinating meat and cooking it, in order to give good flavour.

Sage: Is a herb leaves used to enhance flavour in food. Sage is used in white meats and vegetables and can also be used in garnish for soups

Serplot: Wild thyme used in chicken or white meats. It is also used for production of liqueur.

Reference: ('larousse gastronomique' published in 2001 by Hamlyn)


Aisy cendre


French chicory


Sage leaves

Camembert cheese

Camembert is one of the most famous cheeses in France

It is made from pasteurized cow's milk.

It was made in Normandy region of France.

Reference: ('larousse gastronomique' published in 2001 by Hamlyn)

Roquefort cheese

It was made in Rourergue district of France. Roquefort is French cheese which is made from ewe's milk. It contains 45% fat. Roquefort is one of the oldest cheese and seen in cylindrical shape. Used in salads, flavoured butter and sauces and also served with full bodies red wine

Gruyere cheese

It was manufactured in Burgundy. Gruyere cheese is also one of famous cheeses of France. This cheese is also made up of cow's milk. It is ivory yellow or golden brown in colour. It's texture is pliable with washed and brush rind. Gruyere cheese has a nutty and pungent flavour. Fat contained is 45%, Served at the end of meals or used in sandwiches or used in mix of salads or used to prepare soufflés, fondues and gratins.


Known as cèpes in France and porcini in Italy, these creamy yellow mushrooms have a good flavour and a velvet-like texture. They are quite meaty and have a spongy underside, rather than gills. Ceps is an edible boletus mushrooms with a large bulbous stalk which has resemblance of a tree trunk.

There are 20varieties of ceps which may be differentiated by their swollen stalks and distinctive tubes. There are any other types of ceps found in France such as pine ceps (Sologne), chataigneraie ceps (Auvergne), and reticulated ceps (Alsace).

Ceps can be eaten raw or often mix in salad or omelette or used may as a garnish with a veloute or can be used as a stuffing. Ceps can be preserved dry or submerged in oil.

Reference : ('larousse gastronomique' published in 2001 by Hamlyn)


Truffle is a kind of fungus found in trees like oak and also in chestnut, hazel and beech. Truffle is often found in south-west and south-east regions of France because of its chalky soil. Truffles can be found of different shapes, size and colour like black, dark brown, grey or white. Truffles are eaten raw or cooked and /or eaten with either foie gras or even boiled eggs. It can also be used as dressing for salad. Truffles are also used in force meat, pate, poultry, black pudding, or game dishes.

It is also used as garnish & sauces in order to obtain flavours & taste.

Reference : ('larousse gastronomique' published in 2001 by Hamlyn

Famous regions of France:

Corsica : Corsica is a Mediterranean island in France which is not much internationally popular, but its famous in France for their unique cooking. Corsican cuisine includes use of citrus fruits, olives, tomatoes, and aubergine in their cuisine, because of favourable climatic conditions such as hot, dry summers and mild, damp winters growth these vegetables is helped. Corsican people normally use thyme, rosemary, basil and other herbs in their cooking. People often eat mutton, salamis, stew, eel, trout and cod. Corsican cuisine is flavoured with tomato puree.

Seafood also plays important role in Corsican cuisine as its an island. There are fish such as red mullet, pandora, red scorpionfish, sea bream, monkfish; shellfish like lobster, rock lobster, spider crab and squillfish

Famous food dishes are

Stufato: made from beef shanks or stew meat and vegetables like beans, zucchini, tomatoes and peppers, all cook together, making sauce and becoming a lavish vegetable stew

Corsican Roasted Lamb

Lamb is roasted with anchovy and herbs lik rosmary oregano.

For desserts people mostly consume ratafias (made of cherry) sorbs apples and figs. Wines like vermentino, bastia and calvi caro are very popular. Corcian is mountainous islands and is full of hard rocks with a deep blue sea.


Provence covers area of 9978 sq miles in southern eastern corner. Provence is a huge region with favourable climate. Marseille is the largest with population of 807,100 followed by Nice (345,9000), Avignon( 88,300) Toulon(166,500), and Arles(54,614). Provence people use garlic tomato and olive oil in their cooking. Climate of Provence which is hot, dry summers, mild winters, little snow, and abundant sunshine helps in growth of thyme, rosemary and sage. People are fond of fish & seafood like trout, pike, and char

Famous food dishes are

Rouget:- a small red fish usually eaten grilled

Loup :- often grilled with fennel over the wood of grapevines.

Escabeche:- Fish is poached or fried after being marinated overnight in citrus juice or vinegar.

Ratatouille:- traditional dish of stewed vegetables

Desserts like cookies and soufflé cakes & wines includes cotes de Provence, semillion, ugni blanc and bellet.

Brittany: Brittany is characterized by the rivers like vilaine and Redon this region is the largest peninsula with a surface area of 27,200km. It is situated in northwest of France. Brittany is also famous for its sandy beaches and grassy dunes. The most popular specialities in food are

Sausages and vegetables

Buck wheat and bacon soup (with shoulder of lamb).

People are likely to eat shellfish like scallops, prawns, razor fish, shrimps, oysters and clams.

Famous fish dishes :-

Coquilles St. Jacques:-Creamed scallops served in their shell

Homard a l'Armoricaine:-Lobster cooked in and served with a garlicky tomato sauce

Meat like pork belly with herbs and white wine. Duck with peas, Rabbit with nutmeg, and bardatte and grilled janze chicken.

Famous Pork dish :-

Andouille made of pork intestines

Morlais ham and sausages

Desserts includes Breton cake, maingaux ( a whopped cream dessert) and crepes.

Auvergne : It is located in central southern part of France. Auvergne is one of the smallest regions covering 4.8% of France. It's popular for its mountains ranges and volcanic peaks. Its cuisine is simple. Meats like beef, veal, and turkey is famous.. People mostly use vegetables and fruits like mushrooms, apples, peaches, cherries and pears and cabbage in their cookery because they are grown in abundant there.

Famous dishes:-

Cabbage soup is famous in this region

Charcuterie is popular in this region which consists of deli meat originally referred only to dried, cooked smoked, or cured pork meat, black puddings (made from blood with filler in it), dried sausage and pork pieces

Braised partridge: Made with lentils and hare is famous because of the flavour derived by braising ( Slow cooking in stock )

Auvergne hotpot: made from pork cabbage, potatoes and beans.

Normandy: Normandy consists of 30,627km of France and quite famous region. This region is known for its rich cooking. It is divided into two districts that is, Basse-Normandie, which consists of an eroded foundation of ancient rocks and Haute-Normandy, which is at northwest of the Paris Bassin, and The tradition food of Normandy includes butter, cream, milk, duck, chicken. River of Normandy gives fish like trout and eel. Meat includes mutton or lamb, pig, partridges, rabbit etc. Most of the desserts were made using calvados and cider. Most of the dishes were often served with rich ingredients like

Veal escalope's in cream with mushrooms

Flamed partridges with reinette apples (A very old European apple variety)

Cheese like

Camembert which is crumbly and soft and gets creamier over time (usually 2-3 weeks). An affinage of 21 days is legally required. Camembert has a delicate salty taste. Its paste should have a clear yellow appearance with white furry skin speckled with brown flecks. It is made up of pasteurized skimmed milk and added with pasteurized cream. It's a full flavoured cheese. This cheese was made in Normandy region of France. Because of its taste and texture it is served with wine.

Other popular cheese are livarot, gournay and bondon.

Famous dishes of Normandy :

Moules à la normande:- mussels cooked with cream and apples

Teurgoule:- spiced rice pudding

A` la havraise;- Rabbit is cooked with a` la havraise


Vosges is situated in eastern France . As it is mountainous region it is rich in forests and pastures. Here cuisine is mainly consisting of pork, which is an important ingredient in food like smokes ham soup and pork quiche.

Pates de foie gras is considered an ultimate culinary delight, the king of pates is also famous here. It is a food product made out of the liver of a duck or goose that has been artificially fattened usually by way of force feeding.

Frog legs and crayfish are often served as a first course and fish is used to make fish stews, while Desserts include grape tarts, chocolates, cream puffs,and cookies.

Famous dishes :-

Laminated frogs

Chicken in yellow wine and morels

Reference: ('larousse gastronomique' published in 2001 by Hamlyn)


There are three types of climate in France:


Eastern, north-eastern and central part of France has Continental type of climate this part is colder during winter and warmer during summer; however rainfall is throughout the year. In winter snowy climate is found. Central part of Italy Climate is often transits. Such climate is also seen in Auvergne, Burgundy and Rhone Valley.

Oceanic: Western part of France have oceanic climate. Atlantic ocean controls the western climate from basque to loire. Climate in western part is mild and temperate and with lot of rainfall. Summers have high temperatures. Inland areas are mild but slopes of Pyrenees are found to be sunny. As compared to others part of France. climate is not that cold in winter.


This type of climate is found in southern part of France which doesn't include mountainous regions of the south-west. Climate is hot in summer with limited rainfall and cool during winter. In mountainous regions of southwest region the climate is very cold with plenty of snowfall. Such climate can be seen in Riviera, Provence and Roussillon as well.

In central and southern part of France climate is moderate and light rainfall, but however rainfall ranges between 68 cm and 100 cm in Paris and Bordeaux.

This types of climate have helped in growing different kinds of abundant vegetables and fruits like apples, peaches and mushrooms and herbs in different regions of France depending on required vegetation for specific fruit or vegetable.

E.g.:- Lots of cabbage in Auvergne.

Equipments used in France:

French door wall oven:

It has 3 racks with two lights. It is used for baking, defrosting and broiling. It has 15,500 BTU inconel banquet broiler and 30,000 hidden bake oven burner producing upto 1500*F broiling temperatures.


Use for broiler cooking method of food

Terrine moulds:

Used in making terrines like foil gras terrine and duck terrine

Crepes pans are used to make crepes food items like crepes suzette.

Mauviel copper cookware:

It's a French cookware with copper surface, copper tin and copper lined with stainless. This pan is used for making stocks and soups.

Petite marmite

Broth made and served in a small, covered earthenware casserole. The casserole used for cooking and serving this broth. Usually petite marmite is used to cook food and serve in itself like broths.

Fish Kettle

Use for poaching fish

Cooking methods:

Flambéing: Is one of the French cooking method in which alcohol is added in hot pan which gives bursts of flame in pan. It give nice entertainment for customers Equipments used is this method are black pans

Food e.g.

Roasted quails flambéed with Cognac

Crepe Suzette is a famous French dessert, consisting of a crepe with a hot sauce from caramelized sugar, orange juice, grated orange peel and liqueur on top, which is flambéed


In this cooking method food is cooked in a pan on high heat in less fat. Usually used for browning food however care should be taken as to cook food dry to avoid stewing. Equipments used are pans and pots

Food e.g.

Sautéed potato

Sautéed beans



In poaching method food is completely or partially submerged in water so as to retain flavour and texture of food.

There can be two types of poaching cooking method; those are deep poaching and shallow poaching.

Equipments used are, brat pans, sauce pans, oval frying pans and fish kettles. Poaching is gently done in boiling water which is below boiling point.Between (92 C-95C).

Broiling and grilling:

In this method food is cooked on moderate direct heat.

There can be three types of broiling method those are pan broiling (using of hot smoking griddle while pan broiling) broiling proper (broiling over the coal or gas burner), and oven broiling. Even barbeque is considered under this category of this cooking method; barbeque is an outdoor grill where charcoal is used.


Frying is method where food is fried in oil on high temperature. This method is uses to cook meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables. Frying method is divided in two types deep frying n shallow frying.

Equipments used are frying pans, deep fat fryer.


Braising is cook of food in small quantity of liquid on low heat.

Equipments used are big pots and pans. e.g. braised celery or braised red cabbage.

Reference: ('larousse gastronomique' published in 2001 by Hamlyn)


Baking is cooking food slow and dry in oven. This method is used in making puff pastry, bread, buns.

Equipments used are baking trays.


Like French cuisine Italian cuisine is also very much famous all over the world. Many of us are familiar with famous Italian food dishes like spaghetti ( type of pasta) and pizza. The popularity of pasta was due to establishment of pasta factories in the 19th century making possible mass production of pasta for the Italian market and worldwide. However pizza got popular because of its commercial popularity among youths especially and also by end of 19th century introduction of pizzerias like Dominos and Pizza hut helped in making pizza a popular fast food world wide.

Each cities of Italy have different eating habits and cultures. Method of cooking and style is different from one another

Every city and different part of Italy has their own speciality food

for example tortellini in bologna,

Risotto in Milan and pizzas in Naples.

Even the sauce varies from different place. Every town has a different way of making sausages, cheese and wines. Around 5centurys ago Ferrara, Florence, Rome and Venice were famous cities for the creation of good quality cooking in Italy.

The history of Italian culinary established a reputation more than 2,000 years ago, which includes an illustrious movement during the Roman Empire. Romans didn't ate beef much due to its size as there were no storage facility it was been eaten mostly in winter as it could be preserved for longer. However pork was popular there was as much as fifty different ways of cooking pork. One of them was

In porcello lactante (Pork Chops with Sauce):- Made from pork chops cider vinegar, olive oil and broth. This traditional food and some others can still be seen today on Roman food menu.

After the fall of the Roman Empire the spread of Italian food diversity began when individual cities states had began to adopt separate cooking practices and traditions. Every region started to display its unique way of cooking for cooking of a meatball to the characteristic wine and cheeses produced in a local. Black truffles were very popular in Marches while Tuscan beef was made in the north. Mozzarella cheeses developed in the south.

Diverse types of bread, variations in pasta, and varying food preparation techniques also differed according to region. The southern regions of Italy embrace hard-boiled spaghetti, while the north often prefers a soft egg noodle. Milan is known for their risotto, while Bologna has a deep history regarding tortellini, and Naples is famous for their pizzas.

Over the years, Italian cuisine has greatly evolved in part because of a wealth of outside influences that have added to its characteristic flavor and appeal. In the beginning, ancient Greek cookery became an integrated part of Italian cuisine. Eventually, a wealth of imports found their way into the kitchens of early Italians, who sent Roman ships to collect a variety of important foods, including wheat, wine, exotic ingredients, and fine spices from around the world. Some ships even traveled to faraway locations, such as China, to bring back edible resources that catapulted the depth and variety of Italian cooking styles.

Coastal regions are known for their developments in delicious fish and seafood dishes. For example, the island of Sardinia supplies a more traditional and simple style of cuisine, which often incorporated delicacies, associated with the sea. Swordfish, lobster, anchovies, sardines, and other Mediterranean treats represent Italian cooking of the area. In Sicily (another island region), a great deal of the cooking drew heavily from North African influences. An Arab influence also affected cuisine on the island and within the rest of the south, especially with the introduction of various spices and sweets, such as the Sicilian ice cream cake called cassata.

As for one of the most popular Italian dishes, while the history books often state that pasta was a product of the Chinese brought back by Venetian merchant, Marco Polo, it was actually a rediscovery of a food item eaten during Etruscan and Roman times. It is believed that the first pasta in Italy was made similar to the noodles of today - from the same durum wheat - which was cooked in ovens instead of boiled in water.

Today, the differences in Italian cooking still show through in the distinctions between the north and the south. Each region still carries their own traditions in cooking that reflects deep history and culture with a never ending supply of main courses, appetizers, and desserts that continuously tempts the taste buds.

With so much coast Italy has a wide range of fish and seafood. Until recently fish was considered to be a Friday dish only, and not grand enough to serve to guests, but now it is one of the most popular foods. Meat and poultry dishes are mostly grills, roasts, and stews; there are lovely game dishes, and offal is particularly good. Egg dishes and vegetable dishes can also be served as a second course. Vegetable dishes are an important part of every meal, so make good use of the repertoire. Salad can be a green salad or cooked vegetables dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.

Cheese is served at the end of the meal in northern Italy, especially in Piedmont, but not usually in the south. At home, dessert is generally fruit, sweets being reserved for special and festive occasions. After fruit or dessert, strong black coffee from a high or after dinner roast may be served in small cups, and perhaps followed with brandy or grappa, an amaro (bitter), anise-flavored sambuca or a sweet wine such as vin santo, accompanied by pastries or biscotti with almonds for dunking

Reference : ('larousse gastronomique' published in 2001 by Hamlyn)

Characteristics of Italian cuisine

Italian cuisine is extremely varied: the country of Italy was only unified in 1861, and its cuisines reflect the cultural variety of its regions and its diverse history

(with culinary influences from Greek, Roman, Norman and Arab civilizations).

Italian cuisine is imitated all over the world.

To a certain extent, there is really no such thing as Italian cuisine in the way that one usually understands national cuisines. Each area has its own proud specialties, primarily at regional level, but also even at provincial level. Italian cuisine is not only highly regionalised, it is very seasonal. The high priority placed on the use of fresh, seasonal produce distinguishes the cuisine of Italy from the imitations available in most other countries.

Regional differences

Roman cuisine, for example, uses a lot of pecorino (sheep milk cheese) and offal (frattaglie, frattaje in dialect), while Tuscan cooking features white beans, meat, and unsalted bread. Pizza also varies across the country, the crusts of pizzas in Rome are thin as crackers, while Neapolitan pizza and Sicilian pizza is thicker. 

The influence of Northern Italian cuisine can be seen in French and German cuisines. Piemonte and Lombardia each grow their own different kind of rices, which are used to make risotto. The North of Italy is the home of polenta. Emilia-Romagna is known for lasagna and tortellini (stuffed pasta), mortadella, prosciutto, and parmigiano. Naples (Napoli) is the home of pizza, mozzarella cheese and pastries (babà, sfogliatelle). Calabria's cuisine uses a lot of hot pepper for its distinctive salami (that are common, in several varieties, throughout the country) and uses capsicum. Sicily is the home of gelato (ice cream) and granita but its cuisine also has many influences from Arab cuisine (lemon, pistachio) and also includes fish (tuna, swordfish). Sardinia is famous for lamb and pecorino. Every province (sub-division of a Region) has proper desserts and many other recipes.

Northern versus Southern Italian cooking

Traditional Italian cuisine is very regional and does not follow strict North-South patterns. To most, northern and southern Italian cuisines are differentiated primarily by the north using more butter and creams and the south more tomato. In general terms, however, there is a marked difference between regional use of cooking fat and traditional style of pasta. Inland northern and north-eastern regions tend to favour more butter, cream, polenta, mascarpone, grana padano, and parmigiano cheeses, risotto, lasagna and fresh egg pasta. Coastal northern and central regions are somewhat of a bridge between north and south and often use tortellini, ravioli and are known for prosciutto. The southern regions are traditionally known for mozzarella, caciocavallo, and pecorino cheeses, olive oil, and dried pasta. Southern Italian cuisine also makes far greater use of the ubiquitous tomato.

Types of Italian coffee

Italian coffee (it: caffè also known as espresso) is a strong coffee prepared by forcing live steam under pressure, or boiling water, through ground dark-roast coffee beans. It is usually served in a demi-tasse in relatively small quantity. Caffè macchiato is a demi-tasse of espresso topped with a bit of steamed milk or foam. Caffè ristretto is a shortened (less water) version of espresso resulting in a stronger taste. Caffelatte is generally equal parts espresso and steamed milk, similar to cafè au lait, and is typically served in a regular cup. A cappuccino is espresso mixed or topped with steamed, mostly frothy, milk.

Italian wines

Italian cuisine cannot be separated from Italian Wine. Most Italian wines of great renown are produced in three main Italian regions: Piemonte (Barolo), Veneto (Amarone, Pinot Grigio, etc.) and Toscana (Chianti, Brunello). Other great wine producing regions such as Puglie (Primitivo) and Sicily (Planeta) also produce some highly respected wines.

Traditional menu structure

A traditional Italian menu consists of:

antipasto - hot or cold appetizers

primo ("first course"), usually consists of a hot dish like pasta, risotto, gnocchi, polenta or soup. There are usually abundant vegetarian options.

secondo ("second course"), the main dish, usually fish or meat (pasta is never the main course of a meal). Traditionally veal is the most commonly used meat, at least in the North, though beef has become more popular since World War II and wild game is very popular, particularly in Tuscany.

contorno ("side dish") may consist of a salad or vegetables. A traditional menu features salad after the main course.

dolce ("dessert")

caffè ("coffee") (espresso)

liquors/liqueurs (grappa, amaro, limoncello) sometimes referred to as ammazzacaffè ("Coffee killer")

One notable and often surprising aspect of an Italian meal, especially if eaten in an Italian home, is that the primo, or first course, is usually the more filling dish, providing most of the meal's carbohydrates, and will consist of either risotto or pasta (both being excellent sources). The secondo, or second course, which in French or British cuisine really is the main course, is often scant in comparison. The exception to this tends to be in Tuscany, where a traditional menu would see soup served as a primo and a hefty meat dish as the secondo.

Holiday Cuisine

Italians celebrate each holiday with a different cuisine, each in turn having a specific meaning.

At Christmas, Italians will celebrate the birth of Jesus serving as first course tortellini. The typical cake then is Panettone.

On Christmas Eve they have a variation of the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Then a symbolic fast is observed (the so-called "cena di magro", the "light dinner") excluding meat but including many courses which are not by any means light, based mainly on fish and other seafood, but also on snails, even frogs, which curiously enough are not considered "meat".

La Festa di San Giuseppe (St. Joseph's Day in English) is the feast day of St. Joseph. In Sicily, many Italian-American communities, and other Italian communities worldwide, thanks are given to St. Joseph ("San Giuseppe" in Italian) for preventing a famine in Sicily during the Middle Ages. The fava bean was the crop which saved the population from starvation, and is a traditional part of St. Joseph's Day altars and traditions. Other customs celebrating this festival include wearing red clothing, eating Sicilian pastries known as Zeppole and giving food to the needy.

On Easter Sunday, lamb-based dishes are commonly served throughout both northern and southern Italy. Typical at Easter Sunday in Umbria and Tuscany is also a breakfast with Salami, boiled eggs, wine and easter Cakes and pizzas.

The Mediterranean diet

The cooking of coastal southern Italians was one of the inspirations of the so-called Mediterranean diet, which is incorrectly believed to be characteristic of Italian cuisine in general. An Italian writer remarks sarcastically:

Around 1975, under the impulse of one of those new nutritional directives by which good cooking is too often influenced, the Americans discovered the so-called Mediterranean diet. The name even pleased Italian government officials, who [renamed it] Mediterranean cuisine. They kept the American selection, which excluded ingredients which are historically indispensable for us, such as pork meat, pork fat, butter, and, in the quantities allowed by family budgets, the noble meats, veal and beef. It wasn't accepted that our true eating habits, extending over the greatest part of our national territory, was middle European, and not the diet of coastal peoples.

Regions of Italy;

Italy is divided into three parts those are:

North, Tuscany and the central region, South and the islands

Northern Italy consists of eight regions those are as follows:

Friuli-Venezia Giulia




Asota Valley



Trentino-South Tyrol

Climatic conditions:

Climatic condition through out the whole northern italy is very hot but it less than southern part of italy. Hot climate is found in regions like Emilia-romagna, Lombardy, Veneto, asota valley and Liguria which is favourable to produce grains like wheat , barley and rice . so such grains often use to make pastas and dishes like potenta. In winter , the climate is much cooler , more often it can be seen in trentino-south tyrol and fruili-veneziz giulia which are favourable to produce vegetables like tomatoes, olives and berries.

Emilia-Romagna: This region is meant to be Italy's food basket because availability of too many ingredients throughout the whole Italy. This region is known for producing fresh and stuffed pasta like tortellini and cappelletti.

This region is known for producing good quality wines like Lambrusco , sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay Pinot Noir and Trebbia no di Romagna.