Italian cuisine is the expression of the culinary art developed in Italy, as well as the set of all its regional gastronomies, and evolved through centuries of political and social changes, with roots dating back to the fourth century BC.
Important changes took place with the discovery of the New World and the introduction of new ingredients such as potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and corn, today very present in the kitchen but introduced in large quantities only in the 17th century and, specifically in the Italian case, developed and adapted on site in the form of many and distinct native varieties of value.
Italian cuisine is best known for its vast regional diversity, its abundance in taste and condiments and as a classic example of the Mediterranean diet, recognized as an intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO in 2010.
Furthermore, it is a of the best known and most appreciated delicatessens on a global level: for example, in 2019, the US television station CNN ranks it in first place in a ranking of the best cuisines in the world while, according to a survey conducted by the British market analysis company YouGov, out of 24 countries, it was the most internationally appreciated gastronomy with 84% of total preferences; among various other examples of this kind. In 2018, Italian cuisine achieved a turnover of 229 billion euros worldwide, an increase of 10% compared to 2016.
One of the main characteristics of Italian cuisine is its simplicity, with many dishes consisting of 4 to 8 ingredients. Italian chefs rely on the quality of the ingredients rather than the complexity of preparation. Traditional dishes and recipes, over the centuries, have often been created by grandmothers more than by chefs, and this is why many Italian recipes are suitable for home and daily cooking, respecting territorial specificities, privileging only raw materials and ingredients.
Typical of the region of origin of the dish and preserving its seasonality. Many Italian dishes that were once known only in the regions of origin over time have spread throughout the country.
Cheese (food of which Italy can boast the greatest diversity of existing types), wine (of which Italy is the world’s largest producer, as well as a country with the widest variety of native vines in the world) and extra virgin olive oil (product in which Italy excels, possessing the widest range of olive cultivars existing and being the second largest producer and exporter in the world), constitute an important part of Italian cuisine, with many indigenous varieties and, in the field oenological, specific legal protections: Denominations of Controlled Origin (DOC) and Denominations of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin (DOCG); as well as Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indications (PGI) in the field of olive growing.
Even coffee, especially espresso, the one made with mocha and the Neapolitan one, is an important and typical drink of Italian cuisine. A huge variety of other typical products of Italian cuisine are recognized as DOP, IGP, TSG, GI, PAT and De.CO.
Born in Italy, in Bra, and of great international importance, it is also the Slow Food cultural and gastronomic movement, which has become a body for the protection of culinary specificities, which safeguards various regional products of Italian cuisine under the saddle of the Slow Food Presidia.
In the religious field, San Francesco Caracciolo, who lived between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, is considered the patron saint of chefs in Italy.
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