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A History Of Italian Food Essay

1245 words - 5 pages

Imagine Italian cuisine without tomato as an ingredient or your favorite pasta without any tomato sauce. It sounds extraordinary to think that at one point in history Italian cuisine didn’t have tomato as a staple food. After the European exploration of the Americas, numerous amounts food we introduced into Europe, Eurasia and Africa. This helped evolve the Mediterranean diet as well as traditional Italian cuisine (MacLennan and Zhang, 131.) What makes Italian cuisine popular around the world today is that most dishes are made with a small number of ingredients; cooking methods are simple and the recipes are healthy. This is a perfect mix for the food lover, and the upcoming cook with ...view middle of the document...

These geographic features create notable environmental variations. Fertile valleys, mountains covered with forests, cool foothills, naked rocks, Mediterranean coastlines, and arid plains. This variety of climates allows the creation of innumerable unique geographical and historical areas. The geographical fragmentation alone does not explain how the same country developed all of its rich cuisine.
Now where did this distinctive cuisine originate? Besides political and social change, Italian cuisine has also evolved thanks wealth of outside influences that have added to its characteristic flavor and appeal. Early Italian became integrated with ancient Greek cookery. (Steendahl par. 5) Many people in the past three thousand years have occupied Italian territory, and most of them contributed their own traditions. Etruscans had settled this region before the Greeks. Both the Etruscans and the Greeks influenced this area greatly, and their influences are still apparent today. (Volpi par.6) Any one man can say that Italy’s amazing cuisine comes from the Greeks and Etruscans. Where is the proof to back up this statement? The proof is found in the Roman book Apicus, written by Marcus Gavius Apicius. The way food was prepared was quite important and the book demonstrates the styles, methods and recipes that were used dating back to the fall of the Roman Empire. (Steendahl, Par.4)
The Romans politically controlled the territory with a massive empire that laid the foundations of Western civilization. The Roman’s imported all kinds of foods from all over Europe and Asia. Eventually the wealth of imports found their way into the kitchens of early Italians. The Roman ships traveled long distances and collected essential foods, such as wheat and wine. A variety of fine spices were brought back from as far away as China which increased the depth and variety of Italian cooking styles. (Volpi, par. 8) This enlarged an appetite for exotic ingredients. It was not until the fall of Rome when individual city states began to uphold separate identities and traditions.
During the dark ages, the absence of a powerful central authority gave way for the creation of many fiercely independent cities. It took centuries for some order to be restored allowing the medieval people to rebuild something that could be called a cuisine. (Volpi, par. 8) Along with the already mixed Roman culinary traditions a cuisine emerged in Sicily. Arabs had taken possession of Sicily during the 9th century. With their stay Sicily was introduced to spinach, almonds, and rice. (Del Conte, pg. 12) The preservation of food was either physical or chemical. Refrigeration did not exist around this time; meats and fish were smoked, dried, or kept on ice. Items were pickled with brine and salt, and root vegetables were parboiled and...

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