Tag Archives: food

Why is Italian Food Still Surging in Popularity?

There’s something really rather comforting about Italian food, wherever you’re from.

Whether you’re a fan of pasta, pizza, steak or fish, nothing beats a sprinkling of Italian authenticity, and time and again people go back for a slice of the action. No high street or food court is complete without a classic Italian restaurant full of the sights sounds and most importantly, the smells of Rome, Naples or Turin.

Along with Chinese and Indian food, it is an absolute staple of the Western diet. But why is it that Italian cuisine is so popular the world over? Let’s take a look at just a few reasons that, in a culinary sense at least, the Romans managed to take over the world.

Weird Italy zizzi Why is Italian Food Still Surging in Popularity? Italian Dishes and Food  food
Source: Zizzi via Facebook

Simplicity

Depending on your culinary expertise, rustling up an Italian feast isn’t as arduous as you might think. Many of the ingredients are readily available from a supermarket or, better still, most likely already in your cupboard, and with the swift filling of a pot or pan you can whip up a plate of pasta in minutes. This simple www.bbcgoodfood.com spaghetti bolognese recipe is within the realm of even the world’s most desperate chef and for those with a whiff of ability in the kitchen, the world is your oyster.

Personality

It might sound pretentious, but it’s important your food talks to not only your taste buds but to your mind as well. With so many different food options vying for your attention nowadays, the very sight of a menu should conjure up images and feelings connected to its offerings, and Italian food does that better than any other. There’s an authenticity to an Italian restaurant, a sense of warmth other cuisines can’t match.

Availability

We’ve already mentioned the fact that Italian restaurants play a starring role in any town centre, and in the UK alone there are tens of thousands. If you’re a fan of Greek or Thai food you might not be lucky, and so the easy availability of a Romany feast on an evening out plays a big part. What’s more, new business is adding to this phenomenon and websites such as www.deliveroo.co.uk are making it easier for customers to enjoy their favourite Italian bite by delivering it straight to their door, with the group owning UK food chains Zizzi and ASK Italian claiming the delivery service was behind their 12.5% growth this year.

Affordability

It’s dependent on the restaurant in question of course, but on the whole, Italian restaurants are pretty reasonably priced compared with some of their “fancier” counterparts. It’s the same for home cooking, too, with pasta in particular available cheaply in any supermarket.

Weird Italy italian-food-popolarity-pizza Why is Italian Food Still Surging in Popularity? Italian Dishes and Food  food

Flavour

The most important examination of any cuisine is taste test, of course, and to that end, Italian food passes with flying colours. Compared with the food of other countries, it’s relatively difficult to get it wrong; a dodgy paella or bone-dry baklava is likely to turn the stomach far more than an under-par carbonara, and when Italian food is done right, well, it’s something very special indeed. The very thought of the combination of staple flavours tomato, basil, garlic and cheese is enough to make the mouth water.

Health

We wouldn’t recommend ordering a pizza every day, but in terms of a comparison with other cuisines, there’s a whole lot less to feel guilty about after an Italian meal. Most Mediterranean dishes offer a pretty balanced smattering of ingredients and food types, and from an authentic restaurant, your food is unlikely to be relatively free of grease or fat. For dieters, it’s perhaps the easiest option for a meal out.

With the Italian restaurant industry on the rise and rise and showing no signs of slowing, it seems these attributes are, to diners at least, as important as ever. Whether you fancy cooking up a storm at home, heading out for the evening or ordering in, you can’t go far wrong with Italian cuisine.

Image: Wikimedia

6 Things You Could Never Have Guessed Are Actually Italian Inventions

Italy’s contribution to culture and gastronomy is undisputable. From ancient Roman times to the present day, Italians keep coming up with ideas and inventions – and legendary culinary feats and restaurants – that shape not only Italian culture but transcend borders to influence other nations, too.

And even though the first examples that spring to mind when we think about things that were invented in Italy are quite obvious – raise your hand if you also thought of pizza or opera – there are quite a few things that hardly spring to mind, but are truly Italian!

1. Jeans

Although jeans are thought of as typical American clothing, they actually originated in Italy – even their name is a tip of the hat to their Italian birthplace, Genoa. When Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis first started out in manufacturing jeans, they used a fabric called denim – which is another reference to the French town Nîmes.

But weavers in Nîmes actually were trying to copy the sturdy cotton corduroy typical of Genoa – a cross-weaved, strong type of fabric used since the 15th century in Genoa by shipbuilders and merchants to make sails for their ships and work clothes.

It was sometimes dyed blue by indigo brought from India, which resulted in the name “bleu de Gênes” (blue from Genoa) when they were exported to France – ring a bell?

The name was converted into “blue jeans” in English.

Weird Italy jeans 6 Things You Could Never Have Guessed Are Actually Italian Inventions Italian Dishes and Food Italian History  venice Nutella inventions food casino
IMAGE SOURCE: pexels.com

2. Shopping malls

Built around 107-110 AD, the awe-inspiring structure that was later named Trajan’s Market is the world’s first public shopping centre.

Ancient Romans would flock into this industrial complex that housed roughly 150 shops and offices across various levels – smaller shops would stand on the ground floor, where clients crowded the tiny entrances, while an arcade of shops was found on the higher level and most probably individual apartments on the last floor.

The entire left wing of this building marvel representative of Ancient Roman architecture that spread in the form of a hemicycle housed a covered shopping arcade.

3. Casinos

Human history is filled with games of chance – every civilization, from the Ancient Greeks to the Mayans, had their very own gambling games. Yet casino entertainment as such was born in Italy: the word casino itself is of Italian origin, as a derivative of the root word casa, which means house.

Casinos were originally country villas where people would take their summer holidays or social club. In 1638 the first casino establishment in the modern sense of the word opened its doors to the public – the Casino di Venezia, which still operates today.

Indeed, it wasn’t until the 19th century that the term extended to other public buildings – usually within or on the grounds of a larger villa – that housed various fun social activities, from dancing and music to sports and games of luck.

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IMAGE SOURCE: pexels.com

 

4. Batteries

Yes, it was an Italian who brought this incredibly handy invention to the world – that in turn sparked the invention of numerous portable devices.

In 1791, Alessandro Volta, an Italian physicist and chemist from Como, published a paper in which he debunked the claims of fellow Italian Luigi Galvani – and the popular theory of the time – that electricity was produced only by living things. Volta proved instead that electricity could be generated chemically and went on to invent the first wet cell battery – now know as the voltaic pile.

Oh, in the process, he also discovered methane, set the foundations for the development of electrochemistry and had the SI unit of electric potential, the volt, named after him. Not bad at all.

5. Pretzels

Few foods are thought of as more typically German – but pretzels were actually invented by an Italian monk around 610 AD.

He came up with the baked goodies to reward children who were meticulous in learning their prayers and Bible verses; so legend has it that the shape of the folded dough is meant to resemble the crossed arms of children deep in prayer. Whether that is true or not remains a mystery, but he did call his invention pretiola, which means “little reward” in Latin, which later probably got distorted into pretzel.

Weird Italy Pretzels 6 Things You Could Never Have Guessed Are Actually Italian Inventions Italian Dishes and Food Italian History  venice Nutella inventions food casino
IMAGE SOURCE: pexels.com

6. Nutella

This one many people probably suspected is Italian, and we are happy to confirm; yet any list of Italian inventions would be severely lacking if it did not mention the incredibly popular hazelnut chocolate spread: Nutella. The history behind it is fascinating; Nutella was invented by one Pietro Ferrero, a professional pastry maker.

Mr. Ferrero was seeking a solution to the cocoa shortage experienced in Italy during WWII – and he turned to the ingredient that his native Piedmont had in abundance: hazelnuts. He used hazelnut paste mixed with sugar and just a touch of the rare cocoa to invent the predecessor to the famous spread.

The list of course does not stop here – countless more inventions and products that sprung up in Italy have spread all over the world, creating a deep impact and many imitations or improved versions in other cultures.