Italian Food: Most Popular Articles
It seems like one of the easiest things in the world to cook: You boil some water, throw in some pasta, set the timer for the minutes indicated on the package,
Making a good risotto is rather like riding a bicycle: It takes a little bit of practice to begin with, and a certain amount of concentration thereafter. But making risotto is easy, and quite satisfying
Italy has many traditional pizza toppings, for example the quattro stagioni, which I have never come across in pizzerias elsewhere. Here's a quick rundown. Page 3.
Josephine Caravetta's Pickled Eggplant: Anne has very kindly replied to another person's request with her Grandmother's pickled eggplant.
The dish more people probably associate with Sicily than any other is caponata, a (generally) eggplanty delight that has now spread throughout the Peninsula -- a zesty summer dish that's ideal for perking up an indolent appetite on a hot day.
Cooking pasta is easy, but there are rules to pasta cooking that will lead to perfectly cooked pasta every time.
How to Boil Octopus so as to make it Tender, or Lessatura del Polpo per Ridurlo Tenero: Octopus is delightful, but it can be devilish to cook, going from soft and tender to rubbery and back as it sits in the pot; the trick is to either remove it before it goes rubbery or have the patience to wait until it passes through that phase. Here's a trick for boiling it that will yield tender octopus every time.
Giardiniera, or mixed pickled vegetables, is what most Italians think of when they hear the words Sotto Aceti, a collection of mixed pickled vegetables. The standard Italian antipasto misto wouldn't be quite right without these, and they also work very well with boiled meats in the winter months.
Many in the English-speaking world would call this a Porterhouse and wonder what the fuss is about. And they'd be right in most cases; though Bistecca alla Fiorentina is featured prominently on the menus of almost all the restaurants in Florence, finding a good one isn't at all easy. But when you do it's heaven on earth, delightfully rich, flavorful rare meat so tender it can be cut with a spoon. Much of the secret is the breed of cattle, Chianina beef...
Funghi Porcini "Every year come September, the price of mushrooms drops and I stock up on porcini," wrote
Almost every region of Italy has some form of stuffed pasta. A quick overview and many recipes.
Spaghetti Aio Oio, with garlic and olive oil, is the one dish that all Italian men know how to make. It's also quite popular as a late night snack among friends, say after a night out at the theater.
Arrabbiata means angry, and if made right this pasta is spicy. Though the versions offered by the really cheap eateries in Rome rely primarily on garlic and hot pepper for their punch, some of the versions printed in cookbooks also call for onions.
A simple, flavor-packed recipe for pasta with ham, peas, and cream.
Pasta ai Quattro Formaggi, or Four Cheese Sauce for Pasta: I was recently asked for a four cheeses sauce for pasta. Here are a couple variations on four cheese sauce.
Five ways to use prosciutto in your kitchen, plus ideas for more.
Zucchini and squash blossoms are (I think) one of the most delightful summer vegetables. They're good stuffed, but divine when fried.
Making pasta at home takes effort, but can be lots of fun.
Though slow-cooking pomarola is quite tasty, there are times you'll want something quicker -- that's when this classic Neapolitan tomato sauce, known in the US as Marinara Sauce, comes into play. It's perfect for pasta, but will also work well with rice or pizza.
Cherry tomatoes are quite nice in a salad. But they're also nice canned, and when canned are a perfect ingredient to add to sauces, or even top a pizza.
Pesto Sauce is a classic garlicky basil sauce from Liguria. Pesto sauce is also one of one of the finest summer pasta sauces.
Lasagna is as regional as everything else in Italian cooking. If you ask for it in Emilia Romagna or Tuscany, you'll get lasagna alla bolognese: pasta smothered with Bolognese sauce, béchamel sauce, and lots of grated cheese. In short, classic winter comfort food.
Spaghetti with Tuna has a boring reputation. However, I first had this sauce during a geological field trip in the Apuan Alps: It had been raining for a week, and we were wet, cold, and miserable. When Marco was done feeding us, we were still wet, still cold, but satisfied. And I still make it when I'm out camping.
A version of an easy pasta dish -- spaghetti with a tomato, zucchini, garlic, and basil -- that all cooks in one pan.
Pasta: Sauce or Gravy? Or Ragú? No matter what you call it, it's satisfying.
Squid ink is just what it sounds like -- the ink of the squid, and it adds both a sea tang and a deep black glow to this recipe. You will likely have to go to a fishmonger who has very fresh fish to obtain it, but it's worth the trip.
Pasta with smoked salmon is one of the standard Italian Valentine’s Day recipes (the versions printed are often aimed at men). This particular pasta with smoked salmon recipe is based on a dish of pasta I enjoyed many years ago at Il Pantheon, a restaurant in Rome.
Northern Italy comprises eight regions: Liguria, Valle D'Aosta, Piemonte, Lombardia, Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto, Friuli Venezia-Giulia, and Emilia Romagna. Quick overviews of the cuisines, and links to regional recipes.
Mushroom risotto is wonderful, especially in the fall when the mushrooms are freshly dried.
Home-Made Ricotta Though ricotta is often referred to as a cheese, it is actually a cheese byproduct,
In addition to being fine snacks, these golden filled rice balls make excellent antipasti at parties, and if you make several small batches with different fillings they'll work very well with other fried foods as part of a fritto misto (mixed fried foods). Or you may want a lighter meal, and just serve them with a tossed salad.
Cavolo nero, black leaf kale, is a leafy cabbage that doesn't form heads, but rather resembles palm fronds, with deep greenish black leaves that can be up to a yard (a meter) long, have pronounced ribs, and whose surfaces have a distinctive bubbly appearance. It's quite tasty and perfect in hearty soups or over (or in) polenta.
Porcini are Italy's most valued wild mushrooms by far, and when fresh are a great treat: you can grill them, stew them, make sauce with them, and more.
Larry asked, much too long ago, if I had a recipe for sopressata. Like many other Italian words, sopressata's meaning varies considerably from place to place. In much of the Peninsula it's a raw, pork-based salami that's been squashed slightly during the curing phase and is thus flat; the spicing varies from place to place according to local tradition. In Tuscany, on the other hand...
There are a great many kinds of pasta in Italy. Here's an expanding list of the most popular kinds, with suggested recipes, possible substitutions, and alternate names for them.
Lambrusco is the perfect wine for a picnic, cookout, or light meal.
Recipe for a traditional Carnival-time lemon-ricotta cake from Naples.
Polenta is easy to make, and the home made variety does taste better than what you can buy in a store. Never made it? Here's how. Page 2.
Culatello, the most prized cold cut of Parma. Page 36.
Farro: Grain of the Legions Grano Farro has a long and glorious history: it is the original grain from
Baccalà is salt cod sold by the slab, and you might think it an unlikely food to get excited over. But you'd be wrong, because well-cooked baccalà is a delight: Firm, slightly chewy, and not at all fishy in flavor. But very good, and easy to prepare too.
Almost every Italian city and town has its specialties, and there are regional trends too; the end result is a huge number of local cuisines rather than a single national cuisine. However, there are some dishes that you will find almost everywhere, and that are now standards among the many Italian communities scattered across the globe. Enjoy!
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Lasagna is a huge and varied universe. This lasagna with mozzarella recipe is easy, quick to put together, and also quick to cook if you use sheets of lasagna that need not be preboiled.
Cappelletti The word cappelletto means little hat, which is what this pasta should resemble; they're
Olive oil is quite healthy: It lowers bad cholesterol, has antioxidants that can prevent cancer and improve organ function, and may even protect from age-related dementia. In short, a food that could be sold in the pharmacy.
Orecchiette Orecchiette are a distinctive Puglian type of pasta shaped roughly like small ears, hence
Classic Italian dishes : classic italian dishes cassata alla siciliana panettone milano panettone ripieno layer cakes
A recipe for an end-of-summer caramelized fig and mascarpone tart.
Eggplant Parmesan, or Melanzane alla Parmigiana, is one of the great Neapolitan dishes that has spread across the globe. Eggplant Parmesan is a superb Neapolitan combination of tomatoes, eggplant, and cheese.
Though the Italian Mostarda does contain mustard, it's only distantly related to the yellow stuff in the squeeze bottle. Rather, it's fruit preserved in syrup that gains quite a kick from a healthy jolt of powdered mustard seed or essence, and is one of the standard condiments served with boiled meats in northern Italy. It's easy to make at home, and also makes an excellent gift.
Lasagna with Ricotta: When I was growing up, I was always rather taken back by the ricotta that I found in lasagna in the US -- there wasn't any in what I had in Tuscany. This is because putting ricotta in lasagna is southern tradition that reaches its apex with the glorious Neapolitan Lasagne con la Ricotta that are made for Carnival...
How to Dry Orange or Lemon Peel at Home: It's quite easy.
Crema pasticcera, pastry cream, is one of the basic ingredients used in Italian pastries and cakes: it's the creamy custardy filling of the layer cake, or the cream you find in your morning pastry, or the creamy base of your pudding. In short, Italian desserts wouldn't be quite the same without it.
To use a wood-fired pizza oven you must have two things: A hot oven and pizza dough (toppings aren't essential, as there are also focaccia and other flat breads). We'll begin with the dough. Page 2.
You may grow old, even doddering, but if you know how to make a good meat sauce for pasta people will still beat a path to your door.
Recipe for Sicilian-style stuffed eggplants (melanzane a barchetta).
Bruschetta is one of the simplest things in the world to make, and can be very satisfying if you have good extravirgin olive oil.
A Rustic Peperonata, or Peperonata Rustica: Peperonata is stewed peppers, and there are innumerable variations on the theme.
La Piadina, Romagna's flatbread, is extremely popular. Little wonder; it's tasty to bite into, wonderful when spread with cheese, and it's easy to make!
Lemon Ice: Aggie, who has kindly shared several recipes, says:
Frutta e Verdura: Photos of Italian fruit and vegetables, from local produce markets.
Recipe for Livornese-Style Salt Cod in Tomato Sauce (Baccala alla livornese).
When I was younger, a friend of mine's mom would make prosciutto in the back room of their apartment under the eves in downtown Siena, and I remember how good that room smelled as I watched her scoop handfuls of salt over the ham one day. I haven't ever tried making it myself for want of space, but here is how.
DOC, VdT, DOCG: What does it mean? Reading an Italian label is usually straight forward: there's the
Clearing up the top 10 myths about pasta and how to cook it.
Southern Italy comprises 6 regions: Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise and Puglia. Quick overviews of the cuisines, and links to recipes.
Steak with a tasty, zesty, tomatoey pizzaiola sauce, which Don kindly posted to the Italian cuisine forum.
Tortellini pie is about as rich as it gets -- Some would call it a tortellini timpano or tortellini timballo, and others a pasticcio di tortellini, but no matter, it's a libidinous Carnival dish your diners will greet with joy.
Making Vinegar From Wine If you make wine (as oppesed to apple) vinegar, you can dispense with the apples
When I was quite little my father worked on an excavation in Sicily, and Spaghetti alla Norma, spaghetti with rich, sensual tomatoey eggplant sauce, is one of the earliest dishes I remember. The Norma in question is Vincenzo Bellini's heroine, and the dish certainly does her justice.
Some say Tiramisu was invented in Siena, in the late 1600s, to satisfy Grand Duke Cosimo's sweet tooth, and that it subsequently became a hit with the courtesans. Others say it was invented much later by a restaurant next door to a House of Ill Repute in Treviso, and became popular in the 70s. Who's right?
The simplest focaccia topping is olive oil and coarse salt. But you can top a focaccia with many other things. Page 6.
Pecorino Roamno is an anciant cheese, enjoyed by the Romans and still very popular even now.
Brasato al Barolo, beef braised in Barolo wine, is one of the classic, elegant Piemontese dishes, and really does require a hearty red wine, ideally Barolo, to come out right. Save it for a special occasion, and you'll be quite pleased with the results.
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According to Pellegrino Artusi, a good béchamel sauce, also known as white sauce, and a properly cooked meat sauce are the principal secrets of refined cooking.
Millefoglie, which the French call Mille-Feuille, is one of the most delightful cakes around: Flaky puff pastry interlayered with rich crema chantilly (or chocolate, or both). Libidenous! Wonderful! The perfect birthday cake!
Bucatini all'Amatriciana: This zesty pancetta and tomato sauce is commonly associated with Lazio and Rome, but is actually from the town of Amatrice, a part of the Abruzzo before Mussolini redrew the maps.
This is one of the most classic Roman pasta sauces, and though it is very simple -- just 4 ingredients -- it does require care. Though some people add a few drops of olive oil, Roman purists frown at this practice, and I tend to agree with them. Just pasta, cheese, and pepper, and the creaminess of the sauce comes from a few tablespoons of starchy pasta water. The recipe will serve 6.
Italian Regional Cuisines North Italian Cuisines | Central Italian Cuisines South Italian Cuisines |
Recipe requests come in waves. In winter, people write for instructions on making cold cuts from pork: Salami, prosciutto, salsiccia, finocchiona, pancetta, and so on, which are collectively referred to as salumi. In the past these were all made when hogs were butchered in late fall or early winter, and set aside to guarantee a supply of meat during the warmer months when uncured meats would spoil rapidly.
Alba & its Truffle Festival Alba has a tremendous amount to offer: Castles, fine wines, magnificent scenery,
Polenta, the Italian answer to cornmeal mush, is tasty, extremely versatile, and an ideal accompaniment to all sorts of things. Though it can be bought ready-made, purists are correct in saying that what one makes at home is better. In short, how to make polenta.
Fiesolana Sauce is a smooth, creamy, cream sauce, and will work well over pasta or stuffed pasta, especially tortellini with a meat filling. If you modify the recipe slightly, you instead obtain an Alfredo sauce.
Risi e bisi (rice and peas) is a classic Venetian dish. In the past it was prepared only on the feast days decreed by the Doge (Venice's ruler), and though one can now prepare risi e bisi at any time, the dish really shines only when freshly harvested baby peas are available.
Pappardelle alla Boscaiola: Pasta with a mushroom sauce is one of the most common Italian restaurant dishes, and you will encounter it throughout the Peninsula. This recipe calls for porcini, boletus edilis, and they are necessary to do it justice. Ideally, fresh porcini, but if you cannot find them you will have to make do: Purchase cultivated mushrooms and a 20-gram (1-ounce) packet of dried porcini...
Making Gnocchi alla Romana: Stir the Semolina. Page 4.
Saltimbocca is one of the most classic Roman dishes. The name literally translates as hopinthemouth and is singularly appropriate -- you can never have too many of these veal cutlets with prosciutto and sage.
There's no dish quite so refreshing on a hot day as a bowl of pasta seasoned with lots of freshly made pomarola (Marinara in the US) and a handful of grated cheese. This recipe expands well, and most households make gallons of it when the flood of tomatoes reaches its peak in August, forcing the prices down. It can also be adapted to canned plum tomatoes.
Branzino, or European Sea Bass. In England it's simply called bass. Also, a recipe for Filetti Di Branzino in Crosta di Patate - Sea Bass Fillets in a Mashed Potato Crust. Page 13.
This recipe for baked Royal Dorade (or bass) was kindly given me by Prince Philippe Poniatowski, who makes superb Vouvray at Le Clos Baudoin.
Bresaola, the air-cured beef of the Valtellina, is now available in the US! About it, and serving suggestions.
Leatrice writes, I thought I'd send you a no-fail potato gnocchi recipe that's shockingly easy.
Nocino, or Walnut liqueur, is quite tasty and extremely delicate. It's also easy to make, and a great gift.
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The classic Italian grigliata is a platter of mixed grilled meats. However, there are other options, including spiedini, or Italian kebabs. You can make them just as you like, and with spiedini you don't have to worry about something popular being snapped up before th platter makes full circle.
Almost every town in Italy has some sort of Christmas cake, cookie, or pie. Here's a quick rundown of some of the best known, in order (roughly) of popularity. After all, all Christmas sweets are treats.
Spaghetti with clams is the quintessential summer dish, and is amazingly refreshing on a hot day. Though you can use canned shellfish packed in their juice to make spaghetti alle vongole, live clams are far better. I prefer them in a white (tomato free) sauce because I find that tomatoes overshadow the flavor of the clams.
A delicate cream sauce with a pleasing blush from tomatoes, and all over pasta or potato gnocchi: A handy recipe for when you're in a rush, or if unexpected company stops in.
Italy has many recipes for lasagna, and other kinds of baked pasta, which are collectively called pasta al forno in Italian. Here you will find a rundown of Italian lasagna recipes and baked pasta recipes, with timballo and timpano recipes too
Macaroni with ham and cheese: standard north Italian fare of the hearty sort one might expect in a good pizzeria. Comfort food, in short.
Classic Italian dishes: Pasta : zesty tomato sauce pasta sauces boscaiola sauce primavera sauce signature dish
Mostarda is a classic North Italian fruit condiment that gains a healthy kick from powdered mustard or mustard essence. It's wonderful with boiled meats, or cheeses, and is quite easy to make. It's also an excellent gift.
The Italian equivalent of peasant foods would be cucina povera. Frugal recipes that were once belt tigthening, but that cooks are now revisiting in a slightly richer modern key. Fine eating!
Stracciatella is a Roman egg-drop soup with a little cheese, and is quite refreshing.
Finocchiona is a Tuscan salami made with fennel. Page 37.
Milano's Cotoletta alla Milanese closely resembles Wienerschnitzel: Both are breaded veal cutlets; the Viennese bone theirs and dredge them in both flour and bread crumbs, whereas the Milanese just use bread crumbs, and the Viennese fry in lard whereas the Milanese use butter.
La Crostata When I was growing up, my father directed the excavation of an Etruscan sanctuary on a hill
This is a south Italian sauce for grilled meats; the word salmoriglio derives from the Sicilian salmurigghiu, which means a light brine, and there is, indeed, some salt in it, though the primary ingredient is lemon juice. You use the sauce to flavor any sort of grilled meat or fish, from chops (lamb, pork, or steak) through elegant fish, including salmon or swordfish. In short, it's versatile.
A quick and easy recipe for a traditional Italian summertime seafood salad made with octopus and potatoes.
Chicken Cacciatore, or Pollo alla Cacciatora: This is one of those recipes that almost everyone has made, and almost everyone's version differs: For some it's plain chicken stewed in tomatoes with a little wine, some add olives, others shrimp, and others entirely different ingredients.
Leaonard's version of a Roman classic: veal saltimbocca dry white wine veal chops extra virgin olive oil virgin olive oil
Finocchiona is a variation on regular Tuscan salami that is flavored with fennel seeds. A fine sandwich meat.
In much of Italy a farinata is a thick porridge made with vegetables, broth, and finely ground flour of one sort or another. Liguria's farinata is a bit different: It's made with chick pea flour and enough water to make a fairly liquid batter, and baked in the oven: What emerges is a very tasty chickpea flapjack (for want of a better term) that you slice up and serve. Expect it to go fast, and for people to demand more.
Schiacciata con l'Uva, an astonishingly rich, sinfully juicy wine grape pie whose country roots are clearly revealed by the dough and the crunchiness of the grape seeds.
Gnocchi, Potato and Otherwise: Gnocchi are little dumplings, and though gocchi di patata -- potato gnocchi -- are the best known, there are many other tasty varieties of gnocchi.
Minestra di pane is one of the best uses for sliced Tuscan bread (crusty, firm of crumb, and without salt) I have ever come across. Tuscans make this hearty winter soup with cavolo nero, black leaf kale, a long-leafed variety of winter cabbage whose leaves are a very dark purplish green. When it's reheated the next day, Minestra di Pane becomes Ribollita, and is even better!
There are many many varieties of tuna sauce for pasta. This one is quick and tomatoey.
Vitello tonnato, chilled veal in a tuna sauce, is one of the classic summer dishes, and is the traditional centerpiece of the Ferragosto dinner in Milano.
Agnolotti (pronounced anneeolottee) are Piemontese stuffed pasta, and come in a great many different varieties, some filled with cheese, others meat, and others still meatless. They are, in any case square and small, about 3/4 of an inch to an inch on a side, and are made using very thin sheets of pasta. They also are often made from cooked meat, in other words, leftovers. Recycling can result in something both elegant and very tasty.
Recipe for a version of pesto made with zucchini, mint, and pistachios.
Capitone: Eel is quite fatty as fish go, but if cooked in a way that drains the fat from the fish quite delicately flavored. Wild eel are caught from late summer though autumn, whereas eel farmers time their catch to coincide with Christmas, when eel is in great demand for the Vigil dinner. Page 16.
Eel is an oily fish, consequently ideally suited to the grill. This grilled eel recipe is an indispensable part of the Neapolitan Christmas Eve dinner. Grilled eel for the Seven Fishes! Fried eel is also good.
When one lives in a country one tends to assume that the national dishes are served the same way beyond the national borders -- this is not necessarily the case when it comes to pasta. The major difference between pasta as it is served in Italy and pasta as it is served elsewhere is that for an Italian pasta is generally a first course, to be followed by a second course of some kind...
The summer anchovy harvest was vital to Ligurian fishermen, who salted much of the catch to carry them through less abundant times. Here is how they salted (and salt) their anchovies. It's not difficult, and the results are superb.
Street food -- in the form of pop-up stands or roaming food trucks -- is growing more and more popular in the U.S., but throughout the world and history, street
Risotto has a reputation of being difficult to make. Nothing could be further from the truth, as you'll discover in this step by step tutorial.
Carciofi alla giudia, Rome's Jewish fried artichokes, are a wonderful treat: they look like golden sunflowers and their leaves have a delicious nutty crunchiness.
A Ciambella Romagnola, Romagna's traditional ring cake, is wonderful for breakfast, dipped into warm milk or caffè latte. It's also quite nice at the end of a meal, either with a glass of dessert wine or with the slices drizzled with zabaione or a fruit sauce or glaze.
Milano's classic Christmas Cake!: christmas desserts purpose flour panettone italianfood panet
Limoncello Cream: This is a very nice variation on the standard Limoncello from Sorrento. I enjoyed it at a dinner in the hinterland of Verona.
Cavolo Nero: In the English-speaking world some call Black Leaf Kale Cavolo Nero, while others call it dinosaur kale or laciniato kale or cabbage (laciniato is a botanical term that means uneven, like a fringe, and refers to the leaves). You may have better luck finding it in an organic produce market than in a larger less specialized market. If you simply cannot find it, seeds are readily available on the Internet, and it is easy to grow. Page 28.
Italy has a vibrant wild boar population, and many recipes for preparing wild boar.
The tomato is now one of the most popular Italian vegetables, especuially in the south. Tomatoes have not always been this popular, however, and still aren't in some parts of Italy. You will find many more tomato based dishes in south Italy than in north Italy.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara is breathtakingly simple: Eggs, mixed into cooked, crumbled pancetta and stirred into pasta, whose heat cooks them. Very tasty and very simple.
Step by step instructions for making crema pasticcera, or pastry cream, one of the basic ingredients used in Italian and French pastries and cakes.
A tasty green tomato, apple, and grape relish that will work well with boiled meats and similar dishes.
Zampone and Cotechino, stuffed pig's trotter and a sausage made from the same filling: both from Modena. Page 4.
Tortellini alla Panna - Tortellini with Cream These tortellini are served dry, and should be a little
Chopped beef, or Carne Cruda: In other parts of the world finely minced raw beef is called steak tartare, and they crack an egg into it. In Piemonte they don't, preferring lemon juice and olive oil, and you should try this even if you think you don't like raw meat, as it can be a rare treat indeed.
As temperatures fall off in Autumn, warm, and even hot foods become welcome again. Risotto is quick to cook, brings warmth to the table, and is ideally suited to all sorts of fall ingredients, from mushrooms to apples to sausages. Much to choose from!
Easy, delicious and elegant -- who could ask for more? From your Mining Co. Guide
Italy has a rich, and varied tradition of bread soups, Here is a selection of Italian bread soup recipes, some for the summer and others for the winter.
Breaded Cod Fillets, or Merluzzo Impanato: These breaded cod filets are easy to do, and surprisingly tasty too.
Trancia di Pesce Spada: Swordfish Steaks, and a simple Sicilian recipe for grilled swordfish steaks. Page 59.
One of the most spectacular ways of serving pasta is al cartoccio -- boiled, sauced, then wrapped in paper and baked. As a preparation method this may sound odd, but your guests will greet the arrival of the packets at the table with mounting anticipation that will turn to joy as they open them and savor the aromas that burst forth.
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Cacciucco is a fish stew made in the Tuscan port of Livorno, from whatever the fishmonger has that's fresh and inexpensive. It should have a healthy jolt of red pepper, and will sell you on fish if you don't like fish already.
Sott'oli & Sotto Aceti: Pickling vegetables or packing them in oil: preserving summer bounty for the winter months.