Friday, July 9, 2010

Italy - The 2010 FIFA World Cup Bites and Boozes


I made sure not to feature one classic dish from France as part of my World Cup tour, and I could certainly do the same for Italia.  Their cuisine is known and replicated throughout the world, yet never quite the same as when you actually eat it there, so I've heard. Italian cuisine has developed through centuries of social and political changes, with roots as far back as the 4th century BC. Italian cuisine in itself takes heavy influences from Etruscan, ancient Greek, ancient Roman, Byzantine, Germanic, Gaelic, Norman, Jewish and Arab cuisines. Significant changes occurred with the discovery of the New World with the introduction of items such as potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers and maize, now central to the cuisine but not introduced in quantity until the 18th century. Italian cuisine is noted for its regional diversity, abundance of difference in taste, and is known to be one of the most popular in the world, with influences abroad.

Pizza and pasta are what first come to mind when Americans think of Italian fare, so I thought I'd look at something a tad bit different.  Minestrone is one of the cornerstones of Italian cuisine, and is just about as common as pasta on Italian tables. Minestrone (Italian: minestra [soup] + -one [augmentative suffix] hence "the big soup," the one with many ingredients) is the name for a variety of thick Italian soups made with vegetables, often with the addition of pasta or rice. Common ingredients include beans, onions, celery, carrots, stock, and tomatoes. There is no set recipe for minestrone, since it is usually made out of whatever vegetables are in season. It can be vegetarian, contain meat, or contain a meat-based broth (such as chicken stock). Angelo Pellegrini, however, argues that the base of minestrone is bean broth, and that Roman beans "are the beans to use for genuine minestrone."

Limoncello (or lemoncello) is an Italian lemon liqueur mainly produced in Southern Italy, mainly in the region around the Gulf of Naples, the Sorrentine Peninsula and the coast of Amalfi and islands of Procida, Ischia and Capri, but also in Sicily,Sardinia, Menton in France and the Maltese island of Gozo. Traditionally, it is made from the Sorrento lemon, though most lemons will produce satisfactory limoncello. Limoncello is traditionally served chilled as an after dinner digestivo. Along the Amalfi Coast, it is usually served in small ceramic glasses themselves often chilled, the Amalfi coast being a center of both ceramic and limoncello production. This tradition has been carried into other parts of Italy.

For some thoughts on Italian beer, check out the BR Beer Scene!

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