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Le Basi, Or: Italian Cooking 101

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Italian cooking is a rich, and varied subject. Much richer and more varied than I thought when I started working on this site many years ago. However, once you have the basics it's quite straight forward. And infinitely variable; there's something for every setting and occasion.
  1. Italian Cooking: Basics
  2. Cucina Regionale, or Regional Cuisines
  3. Tecnica, or Technique
  4. Festività: Holiday Menus
  1. Illustrated Recipes
  2. Italian Cooking Videos
  3. Ingredienti, Or Ingredients - Vegetables, Spices...
  4. Ingredienti, Or Ingredients: Meats, Fish, and Cheese

Italian Cooking: Basics

A Chianina Ox

In Italy, the main meal of the day is usually lunch, and (on a work day) usually begins with a first course (pasta, soup, risotto...), followed by a second course (meat, fish, egg...) which is accompanied by a side dish and (perhaps a salad), and fruit to finish up. Festive meals will follow the same pattern, but be more elaborate, while dinners are light -- pastina in broth, a piece of fruit, or a mug of caffélatte.

Cucina Regionale, or Regional Cuisines

A Map of Italy

Though people outside of Italy talk about Italian cooking, Italians in the Peninsula are quick to distinguish among the various cucine regionali, or regional cuisines, and within the regional cuisines distinguish too -- the mountain cooking of the Lunigiana, towards Lucca, for example, differs considerably of the mountain cooking of the Casentino, towards Arezzo, though both are Tuscan. In short, though Italy is one country, it might better be seen as a collection of tiny states, each with its own history, culture and cuisine.

Tecnica, or Technique

A Chicken, Ready for Chopping

To be honest, there aren't many exclusively Italian foods and cooking techniques: People also make pasta elsewhere, and others also sauce it or stuff it. Everybody grills, and most everybody enjoys gelato, though they might call it, say, ice cream. But there is an Italian flair to what's made in the Peninsula, and here are quick looks at some of the techniques Italians use to prepare their foods.

Festività: Holiday Menus

Christmas Lasagn

Natale Con I Tuoi e Pasqua Con Chi Vuoi, Italians say: Christmas with the Family and Easter with Whomever You Please. And there is some truth to the saying, but not much -- holidays are an occasion for family and friends to gather around the table, and people eagerly do. It would be impossible to list all the holidays observed in Italy, but here are some ideas for the major ones.

Illustrated Recipes

Quido's Stinco Arrosto: Starting Out

Most recipes are text-based, and in most cases that's all you'll need. However, cooking is an intensely visual experience, and it's nice to see how things are supposed to come out, and what happens to the ingredients along the way, especially with recipes that are new or different.

Italian Cooking Videos

Turning Chops with Great Haste

As is the case with illustrated recipes, cooking videos allow one to see how a procedure is performed. Here's a quick selection:

Ingredienti, Or Ingredients - Vegetables, Spices...

Zucchini Blossoms

Even if you have been using an ingredient daily for years, there are probably things you don't know about it. At least this has been my experience, and as a result I often find myself updating the articles I have written on various ingredients. Here is a selection of some of my favorite notes on various ingredients. If I have omitted something, please let me know.

Ingredienti, Or Ingredients: Meats, Fish, and Cheese

La Fiorentina, a Porterhouse Cut

Even if you have been using an ingredient daily for years, there are probably things you don't know about it. At least this has been my experience, and as a result I often find myself updating the articles I have written on various ingredients. Here is a selection of some of my favorite notes on various ingredients. If I have omitted something, please let me know.

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