When we say “Italian food” most people think immediately to pasta and pizza, but the real base of Italian cuisine is the incredible bio-diversity between Norther and Southern regions. The regional variations show how territory, microclimate, geographical position and culture have influenced the local cuisine. Both North and South have contributed their share to classic Italian cuisine, but each region has its own distinct set of flavors.
Here, the main gastronomic differences between North and South Italy
Northern Italy cuisine
Northern Italy cuisine loves the land: maybe for its proximity to mountains and countries such as Switzerland and Austria, Northern regions cuisine is butter based, rich in sauces, cheeses and cured meats. Prosciutto di Parma and other local cured meats from this area are popular worldwide, as well as Parmesan cheese. Pastoral and bucolic life at the foot of the Alps stimulated the produce of milk and cheeses: cow, goats and sheep milk goes into Parmigiano, Asiago or Gorgonzola cheeses, just to make some example.
Rice has the founding role for many delightful dishes: risotto made from local grain is a common dish in Lombardy and Northern regions. Whereas, in the Center of Italy the handmade egg and filled pasta represent the special dishes of the area. Although the northern cuisine is rich in meat, fowl and cured meat, also vegetarians can find many dishes too: polenta for generations was a food primarily, fonduta cheese is a typical dish of North and in general here the cuisine is rich in mushrooms, truffles and legumes.
Southern Italy cuisine
While northern Italy runs on butter, southern Italy makes the most of its abundance of olive oils. Olives grow perfectly in Mediterranean climates and become an icon of Italian cuisine: you’ll find it in the kitchen as ingredients or on the table to savored salads or simply a slice of bread. Than in the dishes of Northern Italy, pasta is much more common in south: pasta, such as spaghetti, pairs with tomatoes and olive oil, but also with finest vegetables which grows in this warm regions: eggplants, tomatoes, red onions from Tropea, peppers and peperocino are just some example.
Also seafood has an important role on Southern cuisine: octopus, anchovies, and mussels freshly caught enrich different typical dishes of everyday. Finally Pizza, the symbol of Naples: fresh tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and some leaf of basil are the main ingredients of the traditional Pizza Margherita. If you’re not a purist of Italian pizza, can opt for other variety of toppings: anchovies, sausage, onions and so on.
Now, you know that maybe pasta is the adhesive that unifies the whole of the nation, but those thinking that food is the same in every part of Italy are totally wrong.
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