When thinking about Italian cuisine, most people think about pasta, and pizza, pizza, pizza… but potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, and maize, introduced in the 18th century, are often used in Italian dishes. The roots of Italian cuisine have been traced back to the 4th century when it was influenced by the Romans, Greeks, and Arabs. During this time popular dishes included porridge (pulmentum- a mushy grain dish) and Fish chowder (brodetto). The Arabs influenced the southern part of Italy with dried pasta.
When the new world was discovered in the 18th century, the cuisine began to change. This included the introduction of potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, and maize to Italian dishes. Prior to the discovery, tomatoes were thought to be poisonous and were grown only for decorative purposes. Because there is a long growing season in Italy, there is an abundant amount of vegetables, dairy products, and meat. This may be the reason for Italy to have the 8th highest quality of life index rating in the world.
Before 1870, Italy was not a unified country. It was a collection of kingdoms and principalities. For this reason, along with the variety of climates and topographic regions, Italy has a wide variation of dishes. It was not until the work of Pelligrino Artusi that fostered a national Italian culture. In 1891, he published the first modern cookbook, La Scienza in Cucina e L’arte di Manginar Bene (The Science of the kitchen and the Art of Eating Well). He helped to create the Italian cuisine full of taste with ingredients and flavoring techniques. Italian cuisine has had a profound influence throughout Europe.
Here’s an authentic bruschetta recipe:
Bruschetta Toscana (Tuscan style Bruschetta)
copyright 2009, Maria Liberati
4 slices of Crusty Italian bread or 2 slices day old sliced bread (cut in half, crusts cut off)
*2 tsps butter
*1 small carrot
*1 stick celery
*1 small scallion
*2 tsps tomato paste
*1/2 cup white wine
*3 tsps extra virgin olive oil
*1 tblsp freshly chopped parsley
*1 tsp capers
Salt and pepper to taste
Wash, dry, finely chop carrot, celery, scallion. Rinse capers, place on paper towel to dry. Chop capers finely together with parsley.
In sauté pan, heat oil and 1 tsp butter, chopped scallion, chopped carrots, chopped celery. When just golden, add in wine, tomato paste and stir. Cook over low heat covered for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and set aside.
Place bread slices on cookie sheet and toast in toaster or under broiler in oven on both sides till golden color.
Place tomato and vegetable mixture in processor and puree. Place puree in bowl and add in chopped capers, parsley and remaining softened butter. Place in sauce pan and heat for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and spread on hot bread slices.
Hope to see you at my appearances at:
Willinboro Library-Monday, Nov 2 at 7 PM, Willingboro, NJ
Warren Twp Library-Saturday Nov 14th at 2 PM- Warren NJ
Nov 5-7- Christmas in Italy weekend, Harvest Moon B &B in Lancaster, Pa
Mangia Bene, Vivi Bene,