Italian food is one of the most prominent cuisines in the Philippines. No wonder more and more Italian restaurants are becoming staples of the Filipinos' gastronomic journey. Not to mention, once can see spaghetti, despite being on the sweeter side, on the menu even that of non-Italian restaurants!
Every food enthusiast can appreciate how Italian food is prepared. Beyond pizza and pasta that mainly includes spaghetti, baked macaroni and lasagna, however, there is more to its taste that differs from any other cuisines. It's probably because of how the Italian way of cooking follows the Mediterranean pattern of eating, which focuses on simple and natural ingredients that make their dish a healthy diet.
The Filipinos' love affair with the Italian cuisine
Before divulging the qualities that make such cooking great, here are some tidbits first.
- Italian cuisine is considered the original “melting pot” cuisine
Interestingly, the cuisine refers to a diverse set of recipes, cooking techniques and multi-generational traditions. The cooking discipline is composed of over 20 different towns coming together to form what we call the Italian cuisine. They develop and came up with independent cuisines that are based on local traditions, climates, and availability of diverse ingredients, making the food even more unique and delicious.
- More than 20 towns with its own cuisine
As mentioned, the towns have different ways on how they prepare their food. These areas formed a formal union, where they meld together the best parts of the Italian cuisine, culture, and conversation. Today, Italian restaurants can serve you the authentic taste emerged from the tastes of these towns.
In Italy, each town is extremely (and even belligerently) proud of its own dishes prepared traditionally. Such attitude is known as campanilismo, which means 'bell tower.' The point is each town's passion for whatever falls within the shadow of the bell tower at the local church. That's according to Fabio Parasecoli, author of Food Culture in Italy.
Although most Italian dishes we eat today are changed to suit the local palate, several qualities are attributed to the popularity of the cuisine in the country.
Italians are very strict when it comes to their ingredients, and this includes purely having fresh ingredients on their dishes. The recipes are prepared and cooked under strict safety rules. In fact, studies show that Italian food only contains 0.7% of chemicals as found in the pesticides used, which is lower than other cuisines. It's no wonder why eating Italian food is healthy.
Most of the ingredients of an Italian dish are so simple and common that you can even make and have such in just a few minutes. The ingredients, which mainly consists of tomato, olive oil, cheese and bread, are a staple of the kitchens too. If you need to buy them, they are mostly inexpensive.
You can even grow your own herbs if you want. The Italian cuisine is never complete without the herbs and spices that give it its distinctive taste. You can even have a vegan pizza with basil, tomato, olive oil and crust. That's it!
But if pizza and pasta are all you've ever tasted, then you haven't fully appreciated the Italian cuisine. Well, at least not yet. Know that there are a large variety of choices Italian cuisine can offer from small sandwiches to bruschetta to risotto to ravioli.
Speaking of health, the Italian cuisine thrives on organic ingredients. It means you don't have to worry about being sick over time when you eat the dishes on a daily basis. Moreover, the style of their preparation is associated with Mediterranean diet, which helps prevent heart-related diseases.
Italian cuisine is known to be one of the healthiest diets in the world. Its dish has a balance of calories and nutrients that our body needs. Hence, if you want to go consider healthy eating, then Italian cuisine might just suit your taste buds. An Italian diet can be enjoyed even if you are on a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Home cooked goodness
Italians make sure to eat home cooked dishes. Every food is prepared with the high standard that uses unique products. The chefs follow specific ingredients and procedures that would give you the exact taste that everybody can appreciate and enjoy. Perhaps this is also the main reason why the taste is consistent regardless of where you eat.
Making a single serving requires minimal effort. When cooking for more than one, it's easy to adjust the ingredients. Anyhow, the main ingredients cook quickly; some doesn't require any cooking at all.
Cooking doesn't have to be complicated. Italian food can be store a long time and would still taste good. That is if you've got something to store at all. Why? It's because for Italians, storing some leftovers in the fridge is a no-no—empty your plate!
Further along, when food is served, Italians usually take longer hours to finish the meal. For them, eating delicious foods is one way to encourage conversation among their family and friends. Like us, Filipinos, the Italians find it amusing to gather around with their loved ones and share some insanely delicious food.
By understanding the origin of the Italian cuisine is one way to appreciate its taste and the high level of authenticity that comes with it. Even if you are not a fan of Italian dishes, you can distinguish how it differs from any other cuisines in the world. Whether you're an Italian, Filipino or whatever your nationality is, you can enjoy the delicious taste of Italian cuisine. Do not just limit yourself with pasta, pizza or gelato. Give yourself a chance to appreciate other Italian dishes the next time you visit an Italian diner.
John Mariani, the author of the book, How Italian Food Conquered the World, sums it up by saying, “At the end of the day, all roads lead to Rome. Italian food is simply gratifying, effortlessly delicious and nutritionally sound. The smells and flavors created are unparalleled, and once one has raw ingredients, this cuisine is accessible to every cook and food lover alike.” With this, it is safe to say that the Filipinos have a love affair with Italian cuisine that they aspire to eat the Italian way.
Lena Durante from San Francisco Bay Area on April 26, 2017:
I think fresh ingredients make such a difference in any cuisine! I like to grow my own herbs, too. I also dry the extra that I can't use fresh. It's a great way to save money on ingredients!