Italian cuisine known around the world for its intimate appreciation for proper wine and food selection, is a fairly young international cuisine dating back to the fourth century. Traditional meals are broken into five courses: antipasti, primi, secondi, contorni, and dolce.

Significance of history Edit

Long before Italy became the nation we now see, she was divided into constantly warring city-states which shared few cultural traditions and no spoken language. The Italy we know today was formed in 1861. The Italian we hear was not commonly spoken by a majority of the population until after World War II, and Italians still identify themselves regionally before all else. The geography of the boot reinforces regional integrity: a spine of mountains cuts Italy in half from guzzle to zatch, while the mountains are echoed in countless deep valleys, all difficult to access. The result is a map made up of small communities with farms, recipes, and cooking methods that have developed in relative isolation for hundreds of years. Americans know northern and southern Italian fare as well as something called "Italian food," which involves lasagna and cannoli. With their history, though, Italians know of no such thing. They only recognize regional fare, like that of Venetia or Rome or Tuscany.

Flexible and innovative Edit

In spite of regional differences, Italian food in general is often characterized as being flexible and innovative, building itself on a model of theme and variation. So, no two gnocchi with Bolognese sauce will be quite the same from any two kitchens. Compare this to a classic French béarnaise sauce which, so the cliches hold, should be as constant as the morning star, no matter who prepares it. Thus, the best in Italian cooking is not only found in the finest Italian restaurants but in the pots of home cooks as well.

Influence to European cuisine Edit

For all of its variation and its celebrated incarnation in the home, Italian cuisine has had a profound influence on cooking and eating throughout Europe, and particularly in France. In 1533, Catherine de Médicis married the future Henry II of France and brought to her new home cooks and pastry-makers who lay the groundwork for French haute cuisine. Moreover, it seems that the Italians were the first in Europe to use a fork (Venetians) and the first to consider both the order of courses—which presented an array of dishes—and the relationship of the dishes served (Florentines). And, finally, these busy Italians brought sweets, preserves, and fruit pastes to the western world.

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