Italian Foodies

CUCINA ITALIANA: italian cooking, what is it?

Italian cooking
Ciao, we're
Enrico +Laura!

We are a duo who turned our passion for Italian Food into our business careers. Our mission? To help others cook - and enjoy every chunk of life - in an authentic Italian kind of style.

hey there

Make
PANNA COTTA from Scratch!

Gimme that

In-depth contents, covering anything from ingredients to hidden-gem forgotten recipes.

TOp categories

Our best advices for running business + life while eating healthy and authentic without losing your mind.

Behind the scene of our life:
a casa nostra.

Catch up on all the best tips, tricks, and recipes about Italian pasta.

Have you ever been wondering which recipes traditional Italian cooking includes or what CUCINA ITALIANA really means? What iconic traditional Italian food or dishes you need to master to be considered a PRO in Italian Food Culture?

Italian Cooking, la Cucina Italiana, It’s something that goes way more than pasta, pizza, and icecreams. It’s an almost unlimited gastronomic heritage that varies from North to South and from family to family.

It’s almost impossible to define the one and only right way to do something, to cook like an Italian. But it’s instead essential to discover how you can feel confident and inspired playing around it, having the tools to understand that – keeping some main points firm – the beauty of Italian cooking is that it is a FAMILY kitchen. A kitchen that evolves and is customized according to who cooks it.

What all across the boards is recognized as Italian cuisine are just a few of the specialties that build up our gastronomic heritage. Those that are certainly more successful or that are more easily found when going out to eat. Or the ones that have been – over the centuries – moved abroad (and adapted with what was there available) by the various migratory flows.

But the reality is that Italy is made upon an endless variety of home-cooked food. A kind of food that some times ago was also included in trattorie, osterie or restaurants menus but that today, little by little, are disappearing living space to a more, let’s say, homologated kitchen, based on client’s preferences, or to simpler and faster preparations.

Ready?! Let’s dive deep into it.

THE BEAUTY OF A MULTI-FACETED COOKING

To imagine how ample and eclectic is Italian food heritage we should think about how diverse are our 20 Regions by each other in terms of history, influences, domination, climatic conditions, and habitats such so differents.

If in the South, for instance in Puglia, Sicilia, or Campania, are ingredients like olives, durum wheat, citrus, or tomatoes to take over, ingredients able to handle the dry-Mediterranean heat. The center-north is easier for soft wheat, the corn, or the rice to grow-up in that marshy-kind of areas full of a humid fog that in the South have never seen in life!

If in Sicily they add Arabian-kind hints of spices, great! In South Tyrol, they wink beyond the Alps, when it’s time to cook, in Piedmont or Val D’Aosta cuisine resembles in some ways a French-style or Friuli Venezia Giulia influences are more of a Mittel-European / Slavic?! And, that’s perfect.

Honestly, the beauty of our food heritage is exactly that. Here at Italian Food Stories, we’re on the team who wants to learn how to enhance these differences, to embrace every facet, recognizing them as an added value to what we are bringing to our tables. We want to be very careful not to homologate them to a single – and established by whom no one knows – right version of Italian Cooking.

From North to South, the available ingredients and habits change so much that, to define Italian cuisine, we should include a typical preparation for each one, right?

CUCINA ITALIANA: A POOR COOKING STYLE, A FAMILY COOKING.

Another important point to consider when thinking about Italian Cooking, which makes it even more difficult for us to talk about ONE Italian cuisine, derives from the fact that: Italian cuisine was born a poor cuisine.

Yes, it’s true, today we just need to stop at the supermarket and … we will end up with everything we need (and more!). ALWAYS, at any time of the year. No matter if we need asparagus in mid-winter time, right?

But not so far ago, Italy was almost completely a rural country where people still lived on what was grown or produced strictly nearby.

Just talking about something real: for example, my family, my father’s side, was a family of peasants. To tell the truth, still a little less fortunate than peasants, a step under. My grandparents were sharecroppers. They worked the peasants’ land, their masters, raised cattle for them in exchange for accommodation and a part of the harvest.

If they were still alive, my grandparents – born/raised/died near Modena, in Emilia Romagna – wouldn’t even know, unfortunately, what eggplant parmigiana is or what someone else uses as a filling for Tortelli in another region.

Like most Italians, my grandparents cooked using what was available around them, with ingredients that could be grown or traded with neighbours, with what was possible to found around, in the area.

And this take us to…

And that is why each family’s tradition comes into play to make everything more difficult in defining a single “right” recipe when cooking Italian.

Yes, of course, people exchanged ideas or hearsay. But Italy up to the 1960s was so poor that even if you wanted to try adding let’s say amaretti to the filling of your pumpkin Tortelli as – perhaps – you had heard someone did in other areas, most of the time you didn’t have the money to buy them.

Preparing food, eating was a pure necessity. Apart from the rare moments of celebration. You couldn’t experiment that much, but being so smart to bring to the table, usually to very numerous families, something substantial to feed them on. Made from scratch, with a handful of poor ingredients you had around.

This leads us to have infinite familiar variations of the same dish. For example, those who did not have the money to buy grated Parmesan cheese to thicken the filling of Tortelli or to enrich meatballs used grated dry bread. Those who did not have a vegetable garden to draw from, used to go to the fields to foraging collect the wild herbs, which today are so much in vogue, to create a substantial dinner with a ladle of water and two potatoes.

WE NEED TO USE OUR 5 SENSES TO COOK IN THE ITALIAN WAY

I know I know it can be daunting, seeing Italian cuisine in this way. Without borders, without rules. It has been the same for us, when we’ve had to roll up our sleeves and be the ones in charge to cook for our family, having lost – too early – our mothers.

Since Italian traditional cooking is so the fruit of ingenuity and improvisation, it was mostly handed down ORALLY. From grandmother to granddaughter or mother to daughter through field experience rather than written forms.

Like for me. Despite I have made tortellini from scratch every Sunday, from pasta to filling, with my grandmother since I was 5, when she passed away, when I was 12, I ended up with no written recipe for it.

I’ve had to remember all the gestures I made with her. What I used to do like in autopilot. And work to recreate the result I wanted thanks to experience but above all to the senses.

Italian cooking is all a matter of experience. How to develop our own 5 senses to play around the variability of the ingredients. Improvise to get the desiderated outcome.

Your fresh pasta will never turn out the same even if you use the same ratio. It change depending on the environment humidity, freshness of the ingredients, and so on. But I’m going too deep here. We’ll have plenty of time to experiment with making fresh pasta together soon!

The point is: almost every family has its recipe, its preferences, its way of doing it. It’s a fruits of experiences, of habits, instructions handed down orally. It’s a matter of an infinite variation of recipes. Without even considering personal tastes or diet preferences. Like who prefers to grill eggplants for Parmigiana instead of frying them, just to make an example.

TO WRAP UP

Can you start to see how deep and vast could be speaking about the same recipe? And probably that’s why every Italian girl hoping to impress her loved guy will cook one thing at her best – according to the instructions of her family – and will hear the answer: “Uhm, thanks it’s good, but … my mother or grandmother do it tastier.”

Frustrating but challenging, right?

But, don’t be discouraged or scared by this myriad of possibilities. Put things together, in order, outlining and simplifying them is our goal. First of all for ourselves and for you too. And, it is what we have done in the last 15 years, not only out of passion but because Italian food is our job.

We’ll go into details together, steps by steps, and we’ll be here for the long run.

Wondering what we can do for you?

Our aim is not to be pure recipe collectors. Of course, we want to make available to all of you everything we have learned about Italian cuisine. We wanna offer you tasted-till perfect methods or “our” recipes to use as a guide. But most importantly, we aim to share with you:

  • A cross-section of the traditional recipes of the different regions. We have put together research, advice, and soooooo many on-field experiences for you. We want to give you, of course, what we think can be a good recipe. But above all, we want to offer you all the tools to know a recipe thoroughly, to understand from where it comes from, why it is made in that way and how you can make it fit your taste! To make it become YOUR family favorite.
  • We will talk about authentic ingredients. Spending time on their history, how they are born and how you can recognize them when you go shopping
  • And, above all. Expect something more the usual 20 trendy recipes you can find scrolling Pinterest when looking for Italian cuisine. We aim to collect and – in our small way – protect and preserve a heritage of recipes, memories. A knowledge that is slowly disappearing due to homologations, dietary reasons, rhythms of life, and industrial productions.

If you don’t want to miss a thing, and be on this journey together, join our family HERE. So we can step in deep into the Italian Cooking world together!

TO CHECK AUTHENTICITY OF A SUPPOSED-TO-BE ITALIAN RECIPE ASK YOURSELF:

In the meantime. Wondering how it is possible to recognize if an Italian recipe sounds “authentic,”? Here some useful questions you can ask yourself:

  • which are the main ingredients here? Could we say that Italians-origin / common used? If you are looking for a tomato sauce pasta that includes ketchup, the answer is no.
  • which should be the general feel?
  • Remember the Italian “daily” food is always no-overcomplicated, clean, and had no more than 4/5 ingredients.
  • I have any clue about this recipe’s origins? Can I add something else to make it closer to the traditional one? If it’s from South Italy, maybe I can add a touch of dried herbs or chili? It’s from the North, I’d ​​give it a try to use butter rather than olive oil (if this applies)?
  • Am I respecting the sense?
  • If you find a recipe that suggests you serve your Pasta or Risotto as a side dish. Well, an Italian doesn’t consider that. Never.

NOW PLEASE TELL ME…

Alright, now that we’ve covered why there is no just one right one-way of doing things in the kitchen, Italian style but that is instead more important you know which are the key point to respect, the main essence to preserve and that you have the right tools to play around it and make it yours … tell me!

Comment below, which is your favorite Italian recipe you’d like to know in deep and have all the confidence to master it like a PRO?

I’m oh-so-curious to know!

Laura

+ show Comments

- Hide Comments

add a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

LIKE STORIES? WE HAVE A GOOD ONE

We’ve been working in this field for more than 15 years now and have been cooking together our families every day since we were born, learned (and still getting better every time) how to make fresh Pasta from sfogline, graduate in the Slow Food University, took sommelier courses and so much on. After years and years of real-life school, WINS and FAILURES we have put everything together here. For Italian Food Lover like us.

WE've A GOOD story

Ciao!

Let's hang:

GET AROUND

back to top

We're
Enrico & Laura

We're Enrico & Laura

A 100% made in Italy duo living a life and a business career devoted to Italian Food. Here to serve you, piping hot, all the insiders’ secrets to master the art of authentic Italian cooking.

Let's be in touch!

LEGAL