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What I Discovered About Italian Cuisine

What I Discovered About Italian Cuisine

Spending three weeks in Italy during August, we ate some brilliant meals, so full of flavor.  The common theme I noticed while traveling around was how they kept all food simple.

Fresh pasta has been the order of the day in the Rowland household since Italy.

Fresh pasta has been the order of the day in the Rowland household since Italy.

Italians cuisine is established around simplicity.  They use a minimum of ingredients, with uncomplicated flavors.

Rather than filling your plate, the plating was spare.  Each meal is to be enjoyed on its own.  No mixing of pasta and salad, oh no!   They are not to be eaten together.  Their secret is to enjoy and savor each meal separately to enjoy the authentic flavors of each dish.

I love the Italian way of thinking and relaxing.  Their lifestyle is a lot slower than the Australian rat race.  They stop for lunch, all sit around the table, enjoying salumi and cheese, fruit and vegetables, laughing, and what Italians do best, talking.

Our gondola driver, Caz, Simon, and larger than life, Alessandro.

Our gondola driver, Caz, Simon, and larger than life, Alessandro.

When riding our Gondola in Venice, we met beautiful Alessandro.  He told us how he is now vegetarian, as many Italians are.  He said "it is good for your skin," laughing and enjoying life.  So we too have been eating food which is "good for our skin," to follow suit.

But when they do eat meat, they eat every part.  No wasting food in Italy.  So now we have not been enjoying pigs heads (as per my Italian book), but pesto from the stems of our parsley, which I used to toss out, and utilizing all items we buy.

 

We don't smother the pasta in thick sauce now.  Simplicity is the key. Home made ravioli from the market, with a sage and butter sauce.  Sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

We don't smother the pasta in thick sauce now.  Simplicity is the key.

Home made ravioli from the market, with a sage and butter sauce.  Sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

Travelling to Italy reignited my love affair with bread.  Bread has been ingrained (pun intended) into the Italian psyche.  For years I have had problems with bread, but while in Italy I didn't feel guilty indulging into their crusty sensations.  Bread has nourished generations for thousands of years, but recently, especially with Paleo diets, bread has been added to the "naughty list."

Gorgeous James working at his family run Italian business - Pane e Pizzico, Artisan bakers.

Gorgeous James working at his family run Italian business - Pane e Pizzico, Artisan bakers.

However, I have come to appreciate that there is "bread" and there is "bread," so now I purchase from a gorgeous local Italian shop, Pane e Pizzico, artisan bakers.  For those not familiar with the term "artisan," it means using traditional methods, by way of ingredients and technique, to achieve a product of exceptional quality, over quantity.  The process of making artisan bread is a lengthy 3-day process, using their 40-year-old starter, which is fed daily and often on show.  And they use a blend of 60% imported Italian flour, 30% Australian flour and 10% imported German flour, and very little butter, which respects traditional Italian flavors and baking techniques.

So now I can take bread off the naughty list and enjoy here in Australia, especially their spelt flour bread.

Here are some classic Italian favorites to enjoy before, or after your main meal.

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1. Prosciutto-Wrapped Cantaloupe

A brilliant appetiser served on plates with a knife and fork. You could also wrap an uncut wedge with an uncut slice of prosciutto.  Or to serve as finger food, wrap bite-sized pieces of melon with smaller strips of prosciutto and insert party picks.

Quarter and deseed the cantaloupe.
Peel, then cut the flesh into about 40 bite-size chunks.
Cut 12-14 slices prosciutto into 3 long strips each, then wrap a strip around each melon chunk.

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2. Parmesan, Rocket and Balsamic Vinegar

And that is exactly what it is.  Three simple flavours that work well together.  A great accomplishment to any meal, or eat before or after a meal.

Place washed rocket in the bowl, sprinkle with shaved parmesan, and dress with a thick balsamic vinegar.

 

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3. Potato Salad

Again, three simple ingredients.  Potatoes, chives and mayonaise.

Buy a bag of small, washed potatoes.  Cut in half and boil until soft.

Allow to cool, then add chives and Kewper, Japanese mayonaise.

Again, serve with, before or after your meal.

 

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4. Caprese Style Salad

Tomato, Buffalo Cheese, Basil and Balsamic Vinegar.

A simple salad Italian salad, made of chopped tomatoes, chopped sweet basil, torn buffalo cheese.  Dressed with Balsamic Vinegar.  Seasoned with sea salt and olive oil.

The colours are of the Italian Flag!

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5. Tomato and Basil Bruschetta

Another simple classic Italian appetiser dish we love.  

Chop 5 tomatoes, a bunch of basil leaves and mix together.

Place on top of delicious Italian bread.  Enjoy.

Simon enjoying his Italian feast on Fathers Day. Bruschetta to start. Platter as our main. Followed by a rocket and parmesan cheese salad. Artisan bread. Accompanied by our new love of Prosecco.

Simon enjoying his Italian feast on Fathers Day.

Bruschetta to start.
Platter as our main.
Followed by a rocket and parmesan cheese salad.
Artisan bread.
Accompanied by our new love of Prosecco.

What do you love about Italian Cuisine?

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