Garrett 1Jessica GarrettMs. TilleryBritish literature 4th period21 October 2011 The Importance of Food in Italy Italy is a country vast in history, amazing architecture, historical ruins, stunning scenery,fabulous food and more. Traditions rule throughout the years. One of the traditions is the foodthey make and how it is passed down from generations. The relationships Italians have with theirfamily are very strong and it is important to them to pass down their traditions and recipes. Foodhas a strong social aspect with the Italians. It is important for them to get together to cook andshare meals. In Italy, Italian food is a big part of their culture. Some four million Italians came to America,largely from the south of Italy and the island of Sicily. People that come to America carry alongthe tastes and sometimes also the seeds, recipes and ingredients of their homes. What the worldtoday knows as pizza is the product of a long history of changing connections between Italy andthe Americas and between both countries and the entire world. It is a history of travel, tourism,migration, agriculture, industry, commerce and creativity in the kitchen. (Pizza, pasta and redsauce: Italian or American). More Italians have migrated to the United States than any otherEuropeans. They had a long history of migrating to foreign countries as a way of coping withpoverty and dislocation. The earliest Italian immigrants to the United States were northernItalians, who became prominent as fruit and food merchants in New York and wine growers inCalifornia. (Digital History) In Italy, the food they cook is one of their greatest passions and what makes them happy.A lot of time the Italian would grow their own food and wine. Italian cooking has been
Garrett 2influenced by diverse groups of people, historically and in modern time. While there are manydifferences between regions and between households within region, the concept of Italian foodwould not exist unless there were many similarities as well . ( Judit Katona ) Italians also would have days that were a big time for cooking. The Americans haveChristmas and Thanksgiving where they traditionally cook big meals. Every Italian region has atradition of its own with regard to Carnival, Easter, Christmas, and other holidays. They love tocook big meals for their families and friends to enjoy and get together to celebrate. They also hada fasting day where they don’t eat for a day and then afterwards they celebrate again and eat withtheir families. One of the biggest things that make food a big part of Italy it the Italian families passingdown their family recipes and traditions for the future. They will document it to teach theyounger generation the secrets that have been kept for years. It is a important rite of passage forthe women of the family to carry on the original recipes of there ancestor and to not share thesecrets of these foods. Actually food is one of the cornerstones of Italian culture and even iftimes are changing and life is more and more frantic, Italians still find a great pleasure in sittingat a table, in a home or restaurant and sharing a good meal together. The unique feature of foods in Italy is simplicity. Italian cuisine is great with just a fewingredients: tomatoes, oil, bread and wine, to name a few (discover Italian food). Although usually a side dish in Italy, pasta in America is served as a main course and in manycourses and many shapes and configurations. While Italian American food is alive and well incities across the country, the diversity of true Italian regional cooking is also widely available inthe United States. The southern Italian trend in immigration from Italy was not the only factoraffecting the new cuisine. A lot of their ingredients were fresh and home grown. This aspect ofItalian food made it unique in itself.
Garrett 3 Marco Polo originally brought back pasta from his journeys in china. Polo’s discovery wasactually a rediscovery of a foodstuff that was once popular in Italy during Etruscan and Romantimes (History of Pasta). It is estimated that Italian eats over sixty pounds pasta per person peryear easily beating Americans who eat about twenty pounds per person. This love of pasta inItaly far outstrips the large wheat production of the country. This love of eating plenty is alsocoupled with the tradition of eating meals slowly. In Italy a meal is a leisurely sequence of eventsserved in courses on separate plates. Americans often find it frustrating for meal to be so lengthy.Italian dinners are often the main event and a focus of celebration (Traditions of Italian cuisine). Even today, Italian food history continues to evolve. Much of the changes now, though, takeplace beyond the shores of Italy. In America, for example, chefs have fused classic Italian disheswith American cuisine to come up with dishes that combine the best of both worlds. Chefs aretaking traditional ingredients and combining them in new ways. This could be called a "full-circle" journey for pasta. Some Italian-Asian fusion restaurants are even beginning to evolve( Andrew Krause). Italian-Americans, like all Americans, have access to inexpensive cheese and use it in largeamounts. They melt the cheese in gratin style atop dishes like lasagna and also using freshricotta as a stuffing for manicotti or pasta shells. In the case of many dishes, using cheese bothfor stuffing and melting atop (Life in the USA). Tomato sauces reigns supreme in ItalianAmerican cooking The sauce is lovingly slow cooked in large pots and ladled onto food ingenerous portions. Meats in Italy are sparse and only served as an accent to multi coursemeals. Chicken and Veal parmesan are particularly popular dishes. The meat is breaded and panfried, then covered in sauce. There are roughly 350 different shapes and varieties of dried pasta in Italy. Shapes range fromsimple tubes to bowties, to unique shapes like tennis racquets. By Italian law dried pasta must be
Garrett 4made with 100% durum semolina flour and water, a practice that quality pasta makers worldwidehave since adhered to. By the 1300’s dried pasta was very popular for it’s nutrition and it’s longshelf life. The next biggest advancement in the history of pasta was when in the 19th century,when pasta met tomatoes. It was not until 1839 that the first pasta recipe with tomatoes wasdocumented. However shortly after, tomatoes took hold especially in south Italy (History ofPasta). A story of Italian food could not be complete without a peek at Italian desserts. From avast array of cookies, canollis, and chocolate creations , the variety of selection is endless.Italian desserts range from sweet to slightly bitter, but always delicious. Cookies and biscottirange in texture from tender to crispy hard. Flavored with nuts, candied fruit and light glazes the“cookies” or biscotti dunked in red wine provide a wonderful conclusion to a delicious meal.Custards are made from egg yolks, sugar, and dessert wine. Another custard dish from Siena thathas become well known in America is tiramisu. The layered dessert includes ladyfingers soakedin espresso, liqueur, eggs, cocoa, and mascarpone cheese. It is one of the most popular anddecedent deserts originating from Italy today ( traditional Italian deserts). The Italian food Americans love is not really the authentic, exquisite renditions created bythe likes of famous chefs in Italy. Its not that Americans wouldnt love that, too. Its just that itsgenerally easier to find the sort of richly sauced plates of spaghetti and meatballs, shrimpscampi and chicken parmigiana that we are used to. Weve certainly moved, as a nation,beyond those dishes, but the spirit of them lives on in their successors. Just like Americans’appreciation of Italian food in general, the country’s love of pasta has also become moreadventurous, delving into dishes like pumpkin ravioli and squid-ink pasta ( American continueto tune into real Italian food).
Garrett 5 Italian food for Italians is a reason of pride. You can recognize Italians abroad for theirlonging of typical dishes, pasta over every other. And you can see how dishearten they are whenthey try pasta outside Italy. Some restaurants have managed to master almost all the typicalItalian dishes, but pasta still eludes them. It seems that the harder we try to make authentic Italianfare the more we fail. Only true proven recipe and years of tradition can touch on the classic tasteof any of these dishes. At this point, the only version of Italian food that we as Americans canenjoy are the dishes we have altered to our taste and satisfaction and removed any of the oldtraditions that was established many years before in our Italian ancestors (Italian food and wine).