My Love Affair with Italian Cuisine
Simple and diverse
My Love affair with Italian Cooking is rooted in its wonderful simplicity and regional diversity. With the fall of the Roman Empire, different cities began to move away from traditions and developed their own cooking techniques and preparations and thus Italy’s amazing regional cuisine was born.
Within all this diversity however is a common thread. Italian cooks rely chiefly on the quality of the ingredients rather than elaborate recipes and preparation. Seasonality with an uncompromising emphasis on freshness is critical to the Italian way of cooking. Each region in Italy proudly has its own specialties. These uniquely different dishes may be influenced by a bordering country, such as France or Austria, or even where they are situated within Italy. Is the region in the south by the sea or in the mountains of northern Italy?
Whatever regional cuisine I’m cooking, one of my favorite things to do, especially on a Sunday, is to prepare a full-blown Italian meal in all its glorious components for family and friends. Without a doubt this meal is meant to be shared with those who are most dear to your heart and reinforce the bonds of love and family. This meal should last much longer and in today’s crazy world I believe it’s quite important. It’s a time to put away the cell phones and engage in conversation, fun, laughter, drink and incredible food. There are actually 9 stages to this special meal.
Aperitivo- An Aperitif usually enjoyed as an appetizer before a large meal. One of my favorites is the iconic Italian cocktail, Negroni. Prosecco, a white Italian wine is also a very nice start to this fabulous meal.
Antipasto- Literally means “before the meal.” It can be hot or cold and usually consists of cheese, ham, cured sausages, marinated vegetables or fish and bread.
Primo- “First Course”, usually a hot dish that can be a pasta, risotto, gnocchi or soup.
Secondo- “Second Course”, the main dish, usually fish or meat with potatoes. Traditionally in Northern Italy veal, pork, chicken and now beef are the main choices with the abundant Seafood being more popular in the South of Italy.
Contorno- “Side Dish”, may be a salad of cooked vegetables. Traditionally this can be served along with the main course.
Formaggio e frutta- “Cheese and Fruits”. The first dessert!
Dolce- “Sweet”, such as cakes like Tiramisu, cookies and Gelato (Italian Ice Cream).
Digestivo- “Digestives a nice after dinner drink like Grappa, Limoncello or Sambuca.
Fresh seasonal ingredients, simple recipes, throw in an abundance of passion and love, surround yourself with family and friends and the world will be a much better place with that effort. Share with us your stories and recipes, I’d love to hear from you!
Josephine’s Original Blend
This blend is simply delicious on all types of food. It has a smoky profile with some sweetness and a touch of heat. Can you say, “seasoning for meatballs?” Yes you can!