Normally, the first thing you think of when someone says "Italian Food" is "Pasta or Pizza." Italian food is much more than just that. Over the next few months I will try to break down the different types and ingredients used in Italian food. Today, I'll just mention the many different areas and items that will be covered in future blogs.
I will cover the two mentioned above (pasta & pizza) in more detail later in the series. But let's just put it out there that pasta comes in many different shapes for many different uses. It also comes as a fresh refrigerated product or as dry pasta. You can make your own pasta too and it doesn't take a fancy machine to do it. Although that certainly helps.
Pizza as we know it in the USA comes in many different crust forms. There is the "Thin New York" style with thicker hand tossed pizzas in between the "Deep Dish" style of Chicago. In Italy, they tend to be more like the New York ones.
But it doesn't stop there with just pasta and pizza. Italian food is big with rices and grains. The rice is used in "Risotto" for example and the cornmeal is used in making "Polenta."
Then come beans and other pulses like chick-peas and lentils. The "Cannellini" and "Fava" beans are the most popular of the bean world. They are used in more than just soups too.
You can't talk Italian food without thinking about "Cheese" and all the different kinds they offer. Of course, "Parmigiano Reggiano" is the king of their cheeses. At least that is the thought of many TV chefs. But the Italians have many different cheeses from hard ones to soft and fresh ones too.
The average person probably thinks of "Pepperoni" when someone says Italian meats. But there are many others including Prosciutto, Pancetta, Salami and Sausages of all types. Lamb, pork and veal are staples in Italy and are much more common than beef. Italians use all kinds of poultry too.
Fish and shellfish are popular as well. Anchovies and Sardines are a couple of unusual ingredients to us in the USA and many of us wouldn't try them for all the tea in China. But they are really quite good and you should give them a try. Shrimp, Clams and Mussels are the main shellfish used but they like their Squid and Octopus too.
Tomatoes and Garlic are not the only vegetables and fruits that used in their cooking like many of us think. Some other products they like to used include Artichokes, Fennel, Eggplant, Mushrooms and Figs. There are many more and I'll touch base on them in the coming months.
The Italians also like many different kinds of Nuts, Olives and most importantly Olive Oil. Fresh Basil, Flat Leaf Parsley, Capers and Hot Peppers are other ingredients I should mention now because I will cover them later.
As you can see "Italian Food" is vary diverse. I will try and cover both commonly known recipes as well as some many of you may never have heard of much less tried. This week the two recipes are one of each. Although the meatball recipe is a little out of the ordinary it is a commonly known item. Now the gnocchi may be one of those ingredients many have never heard of or tried. Both are well worth the effort so give them a try. Have a good week and I want to thank my "Russian" blog followers for their support. Their numbers keep increasing. Thank you!