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Fuit market in VeniceThese notes were made during a six week trip to Italy. These are just our food experiences and you may have a totally different experience depending on your budget, where you travel and where you eat.

Italian food is the typical Mediterranean diet, with similarities to Spain. There is not a large multicultural food influence as Italians love their pizza and pasta, and all restaurants serve both. There is also very limited takeaway food stores. There are lots of fruit shops. Alcohol is consumed at lunch and with dinner, either beer or wine depending on the weather. We were lucky enough to stay with family during summer, and experience the home style cooking and eating. Lunch was the largest and most extravagant meal, with dinner very similar. Italian grandmothers always want to feed you more! all meals at home were cooked with home grown vegetables and fruit. Tomatoes are always Roma, which are longer and skinnier than regular tomatoes, and a little sweeter.

Italian PizzaPizza

Italian pizza is very simple, with minimal toppings and a thin base. The further north you travel the thicker the pizza base and the more toppings that are used. Generally margarita is the most common, being just tomato paste and cheese and is the cheapest. Oil is poured on top of the pizza before cooking. Pizza is often sold by weight by the slice. A couple of one we liked were:

Chilis from ItalyPasta

Pasta is certainly a specialty of Italy. There is an array of pasta shapes and sauce varieties. However, usually they are very simple just like the pizza. Some of the local varieties are:

Risotto

A rice dish made with Arborio, a short grain rice, cooked with stock and a variety of ingredients. Commonly seafood and mushrooms.

Aranchini ball

Rice balls, probably made with leftover risotto, crumbed and deep fried, flavored with tomato paste, peas and containing pieces of mozzarella cheese in the middle. When eaten hot the cheese is melted inside.

Typical breakfast

Strong coffee, usually taken short with sugar and no milk, and sweet biscuits or bread.

Deli specialties

deli meats in ItalyThe array of olives, cheese, salami and other cured meats is incredible.

Basic Pizza from Florence, ItalyBread

Generally bread is much heavier, harder, tougher and crunchier than French bread. Ciabatta is a specialty, which is a heavy crusted but very airy inside. Some bread types are very low in salt. Panini are small soft rolls. Bread sometimes comes with aniseeds mixed in, this can also be common for pretzel like bread rolls or biscuits. Focaccia is an oily, salty bread more common in the northern parts of Italy. Often made into pizza rather than filled like a bread roll. Very popular eaten plain and fresh. Bread is usually sold by weight.

Home cooked meals

Usually a pasta dish is served as the main part of the meal:

roma tomatoesAlso with many other side dishes on the table to accompany:

Fruit always served at the end of the meal, melon and pears, because that’s what is grown in the garden!

Desserts

Drinks

McDonalds

Local varieties include: mozzarella sticks crumbed and fried, cremogelati, caprese salad (lettuce, cherry tomatoes, soft white cheese and carrot), different frappe flavors, beer is also available!