Italian gastronomy is an integral part of the Mediterranean diet, which, is itself, part of the intangible cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco. For the Italian population, cooking is an art of living that seduces. The Italians want to use mainly fresh, seasonal and local products. The constant search for a gustatory balance that highlights the flavour of each food dominates Italian culinary recipes. Italian gastronomy, simple but tasty, is a culture that originates from the heritage of each family.
Traditionally, an Italian menu consists of a festival of varied foods. The aperitivo includes a drink (wine, cocktail or spritz), and stuzzichini (charcuterie). Then come the appetisers, fish-based, marinated octopus, fried squid, fried zucchini flowers, ham in chiffonade or spinach pie. These anti-pasti or hors d'oeuvres can also be marinated vegetables, salads, bruschettas or croquettes.
The primo or first dishes are based on gluten in all forms. They include spaghetti and tagliatelle, stuffed lasagne, cannelloni or tortellini. Risotto, gnocchi, soups or minestrone soup are also included. The dishes of resistance or secondo have essential elements of meat or fish, served with cooked vegetables or in salad (contorno). The cheeses come in entremets. The dessert consists of fruit and / or cake. As a digestive, espresso or liqueur, such as grappa, amaro or limoncello, is served.
The Val d'Aosta produces Arnad's bacon, Saint Marcel's dry ham and alpine milk. Mountain cheeses, such as the Fontina, Toma di Gressoney and Reblochon are also from this area. Polenta and carbonnade, a dish made with beef in red wine, are the specialties of the region. As a dessert, you can find tiles with almonds and hazelnuts or tegole valdostane, or the Mecoulin. There are about 20 types of wine in this area, which makes it easy to find one that compliments any dish, soup or sauce to bring more warmth in winter. Piedmont is the origin of grissini or gressins, for appetizer snacks, and Tajarin (pasta cooked with stew), as well as Bagna Cauda, vegetables soaked in a hot sauce made with garlic, anchovies, butter and olive oil. Its typical specialties are the white truffle of Alba, the hazelnuts of Piedmont, Robiola cheeses, Bra, Toma Piemontese, gorgonzola, fritto misto, traditional Piedmontese desserts are the gianduia of Turin (chocolate paste) and krumiri (biscuits). Red wine is the specialty of the region, to name but the Barolo, Dolcetto and Fraisa. As for white wines, the best known are sparkling wines, such as Asti Spumante and Moscato d'Asti. In Sicily, gastronomy is as rich as it is varied. It is a region producing citrus and dried fruit. It is also the origin of the sweetest wines, such as the Malvasia de Lipari or the Passito de Pantelleria.