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Thursday, June 20, 2024
The happiness that food can arouse is an endlessly renewable resource and has the capacity to outlast every other drive that propels our lives. (Marcella Hazan, Marcella says…, 2004)

The major differences in the cooking of Northern, Central, and Southern Italy have been described by culinary historians and food writers using words like mangiapolenta (polenta eaters) for the north, mangiafagioli (bean eaters) for the centre, and mangiamaccheroni (macaroni eaters) for the south. (Mary Ann Esposito, Ciao Italia-Bringing Italy Home, 2001) Olive oil is used as a primary cooking fat in southern Italy, and butter in northern Italian cooking. These differences make sense if you study the geographic and climatic diversity of the Italian regions. The south grows olive trees and produces olive oil, and areas of the north are the perfect place for the dairy industry and the production of butter.

1. Valle D'Aosta (Val d’Aosta)
Val D'Aosta is Italy’s smallest region. Known as “The Rome of the Alps”, this region uses milk, butter and cheese, corn, buckwheat, herbs, chestnuts, mushrooms and honey…the foundations of the Valdostani. The climate doesn’t allow growing olive trees, but the Valdostani use unsalted butter and lard from pigs in their foods.
Click here to see the recipe Costolette alla Valdostana
2. Piemonte (Piedmont)

The name Piedmont means a pie' dei monti (at the foot of the mountains). Almost half of the region is covered in mountains. Meals in Piedmont often begin with as many as four antipasti, followed by the first course, and then by the roast or stew. The cheeses made in Piedmont are among the best in Italy

Click here to see the recipe Risotto al Barolo

3. Liguria

The real Liguria is found in towns like Genoa, Portofino, Rapallo, and Santa Margherita. Though technically a northern region, Liguria cooking resembles that of the southern region. Olive oil is a staple, as are fresh vegetables, and herbs.

Click here to see the recipe Coniglio alle Mandorle e Senape


4. Lombardia (Lombardy)

Lombardy offers the cook a wide variety of ingredients, such as polenta, rice, beef and veal, ham and salami, and a variety of spices.

Click here to see the recipe Risotto alla Milanese

5. Trentino – Alto Adige

Trentino–Alto Adige is really two regions combined in one. Trentino developed a cuisine based on the rigorous weather of mountain life. Alto Adige has a diverse tradition closer to that of the Austrians and Germans.

Click here to see the recipe Omelette di Patate

6. Friuli – Venezia Giulia

The name Friuli came from the ancient name of Cividale del Friuli, Forum Juli. The name Venezia Giulia reflects the time this belonged to the Republic of Venice. This region is split into three areas, and its cooking is dominated by fish and seafood.

Click here to see the recipe Capesante alla Triestina

7. Veneto(The Veneto)

The Veneto has taken its name from the Veneti, ancient people well known for horsebreeding. The Veneto includes three zones with three distinct cuisines, though all three share a love of polenta and rice.

Click here to see the recipe Risi e Bisi

8. Emilia – Romagna

This region has two parts: the never ending plains and hills of Emilia, and the mountains and coastline of Romagna. Yet as different as these parts are, they are united by the fresh egg pastas, cheeses, and salty meats.

Click here to see the recipe Scaloppine di Vitello alla Bolognese


9. Toscana (Tuscany)

Tuscany is situated between hills and mountains. The cuisine of Tuscany is found in the trinity of saltless bread, vegetables and olive oil.

Click here to see the recipe Ignudi

10. Umbria

Umbria is the only region in central Italy away from the sea. It has valleys and hills, mountains and lakes. It takes the name from the Umbri. Olive oil is found in almost every dish, and pork is the king of the Umbrian table.

Click here to see the recipe Pollo alla Cacciatora

11. Le Marche (The Marches)

The Marches is a region that integrates coastline, hills and forests. Its cuisine is as varied as its dialects. The Marchigiani love pasta and bread. Olives are a favorite: pitted, stuffed, and fried.

Click here to see the recipe Pizza al Formaggio di Pasqua

12. Il Lazio (Latium)

When you think of Latium, you think of Rome, the capital of Italy, famous for its ancient history. In this region the ancient cooking traditions are kept alive. Latium uses Pecorino to give flavour to the dishes. Lamb is a favorite meat of Latium.

Click here to see the recipe Bucatini all’Amatriciana

13. Abruzzo

Abruzzo is one of the least populated regions in Italy. Abruzzo has combined the mountain and the sea. The results are seen in two diverse cuisines. Gnocchi, ham, pig or calf are part of the cuisine, but so are fish, sheep milk cheese, pasta, and lamb.

Click here to see the recipe Pollo all’Abruzzese

14. Molise

Molise is the smallest region after Val d’Aosta. The Molise cuisine is two-fold: lamb and sheep linked to the hills and the mountains' style of cooking and the coast with the fisherman’s favorites. Pasta with vegetables and chili pepper is a favorite of the inhabitants of Molise.

Click here to see the recipe Zuppa di Pesce alla Termolese

15. Campania

Campania and Sicily share very much of the same cuisine. They both like to combine anchovies, pine nuts, raisins, which they use to prepare many specialties. The area grows eggplants, beans, tomatoes, figs, citrus, walnuts, grapes, olives, and apricots. Seafood cuisine is also prominent.

Click here to see the recipe Insalata di Mare

16. La Puglia (Apulia)

Apulia and Calabria have similiar cuisine: fish and pasta and vegetables. The region grows vegetables, especially broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, eggplants, and tomatoes. Apulia offers a nice variety of cheese and meat too. Every meal is sprinkled with the delicious taste of olive oil.

Click here to see the recipe Pepata di Cozze al Limone

17. Basilicata

Basilicata’s people are also known as Lucani, after the Lyki, an Anatolian tribe. Wheat, grapes and olives are well- known agricultural products of the region. Pork and goat’s milk cheeses are also produced. The people of Basilicata are known as sausage-makers.

Click here to see the recipe Agnello e Funghi al Forno

18. Calabria

Calabria has the longest coastline in the Italian peninsula. Calabrian cooking includes fish, spicy dishes, pasta, bread, and lasagna. The Calabrians are known as sausage-makers. The region grows very sweet clementines.

Click here to see the recipe Tonno al Salmoriglio

19. La Sicilia (Sicily)

Sicily is the largest island in Mediterranean. The area is an ideal terrain to cultivate olives, wheat and grapes. Pasta and bread are the basics in the cuisine of Sicily, and vegetables and cheese are delicious companions of Sicilian dishes.

Click here to see the recipe Biscottini di Mandorla

20. La Sardegna (Sardinia)

Sardinia is devoted to animals like sheep. The cuisine is a pastoral one. Lamb, semolina pasta, bread, and sheep's milk cheese are basics of Sardinian cooking.

Click here to see the recipe Aragosta Arrosto

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The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.


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