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Italy’s Top 5 Foodie Favorites

Italy, the long boot-shaped European peninsula has a rich language, culture, and history. It is a stunningly beautiful and exciting vacationing spot, full of notable landmarks. For foodie fans in particular, the famous Italian cuisine is one of the many traditional aspects of its culture that must be explored when visiting the country. Listed below are just a few of the foodie culinary must try dishes while in Italy.

1. Pizza from Naples

When beginning the search for pizza, a food that almost everyone can be happy about, there is no better place to go for it than its original source, Naples. Everything began with the tomato. Unfortunately, however, the tomato had a bad rap in the early 16th century, upon its introduction into Europe. It wasn’t until the 18th century when people actually realized that the strange, red fruit wasn’t poisonous. Luckily, for the rest of us, it became  a common habit for the daring populous of Naples to add some tomato sauce to the tops of their flat bread, thus creating the dawn of the modern pizza.

In the early 1800s, pizza was sold in the poorer neighborhoods in open air markets, making it a popular local street food. Two classic variations include the Marinara – tomato, garlic, oregano, and extra virgin olive oil, and the Margherita – tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and extra virgin olive oil. Tourists in Naples will find a surprisingly different, but tasty, tradition infused pizza than its American counterpart. Naples takes its pizza very seriously, so much so that it has a special “Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana” (True Neapolitan Pizza Association), which ensures that all of the pizza being served in the area absolutely adheres to its historic and traditional roots.



Image via Flickr

2. Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara fans from the States may also be surprised when they try the traditional Italian recipe, as compared to the several different US and Canadian versions of the dish. The traditional style of Carbonara sauce in Italy leaves out the cream for which some versions in the States call. The classic Italian combination of egg, bacon, Romano cheese, white wine, and rigatoni noodles or spaghetti, is a must-try for those who like to compare Italian American and traditional Italian food recipes.

The true story about where the famous pasta dish came from is even hazy in Italy. The name of the dish Carbonara means Charcoal burner. This gives us a clue that maybe it was created as a cheap staple in the old days for charcoal workers who used coal for fuel, cooking the dish in the open air over hot embers. The secret to this great dish is, both in its simplicity and also in its bold flavors of bacon and cracked pepper. This is one of the few classic Italian pasta dishes in which you will not find a bit of tomato sauce.


Image via Pixabay

3. Fine Italian Prosciutto

The two most famous versions of the incredibly delicious Italian dry cured ham, are from the regions of Parma, and also San Daniele Italy. The Parma prosciutto has a slightly nutty flavor to it, whereas San Daniele prosciutto has a darker and sweeter flavor. The very thinly sliced cured ham, is traditionally served in an antipasto, or wrapped around fresh melon. It is also used to stuff other meats, and of course, perfectly plain in-between two pieces of fresh bread and some cheese on a beautiful Italian countryside picnic. Making prosciutto is not a quick nor easy process, and it can take anywhere from nine months, to up to two whole years, in order for the delicacy to dry and cure itself properly. This makes prosciutto ham a delightfully delicious, must-try while in Italy; guaranteed delicacy for a traveler to put on their Italian foodie list.


Photo via Wikimedia


Photo via Wikimedia

4. Gelato

Gelato is the Italian word for “Ice Cream,” derived from the Latin gelatus, meaning “Frozen.” The tasty treat can be made with milk, requiring a low ratio of 3.5% butterfat (U.S Ice cream is 10% or higher) to be held in traditional Italian standard. It has a smaller amount of whipped air in its mix than American ice cream. It is also made with an assortment of fresh fruit flavors. The mixture is balanced with both sugar and water in order to prevent it from freezing solid; making the frozen treat low in fat, but very high in sugar. This gives the Italian delicacy a rich and refined texture, which abounds with fresh local taste. When in Italy, purchasing some authentic Italian Gelato after a fine meal or on the go while touring is definitely a pleasant must-do foodie experience – One that your taste buds will never forget.

5. Tiramisu

Tiramisu is an elegant Italian favorite that is a descendant of Tuscany’s deliciously decadent layered desserts, which date back to the 17th century. Its name literally means “pick-me-up”, which is an obvious reference to one of the ingredients: espresso! The tasty dessert consists of a long list of delicious ingredients that include: Ladyfinger biscuits, mascarpone cheese, Italian custard, eggs, sugar, Marsala wine, rum, and a generous sprinkling of cocoa powder. The actual timestamp of Tiramisu is under some heated debate, and some people place its date of origin  only as far back as the 1970s. While others believe that it was a product of WWI, so that enlisted men could march off to the trenches of the Western Front with the special dessert in hand, whilst others steadfastly believe in its Tuscany lineage.


Photo via Wikipedia

The only other thing that compliments a fine Italian meal better than a good paired wine, is ordering your meal while speaking the Italian language. The professionals at Listen & Learn language centers will set you on the best language course for your needs. Contact Us to get started today.