Tastes of Italy

Italy has a strong reputation as a gourmet destination and a whole travel niche has grown up to cater for the many thousands of tourists who flock to the country every year seeking an authentic taste of Italy. If you’re a self-confessed foodie there are plenty of opportunities to gain hands-on experience of crafting Italian cuisine including tours, cooking villa holidays and day courses. However, you may find these options a little pricy if you head on holiday on your own, as supplements are often applied for single travellers or those accompanied by non-cooking guests. For those who prefer a more relaxed break and like to concentrate on eating rather than creating, Italy has much to offer. It’s worth bearing in mind that building your own foodie holiday can often be far cheaper than going through a tour operator too, so consult the currency exchange for the latest rates which you can get online at Travelex.it, stock up on your Euros and prepare to eat your way through Italy.

Fresh pasta is likely to be top of your list of things to try, perhaps alongside the other well-known Italian dish, pizza, but there is far more to sample beyond the two ‘p’s.  Here are five slightly lesser-known Italian specialities that you really ought to sample.

1)   Sausage

The Italian’s are known for their cured meats but chunky sausages flavoured with herbs and spices are the focus of many traditional dishes from lentil, bean or cabbage stews through to pasta ragus. These seasoned pork sausages are equally delicious cooked simply in a pot with tomatoes, peppers, onion and a little balsamic vinegar.

2)   Balsamic vinegar

Choose a salad and you might find balsamic in the dressing but it also comes in a host of other foods including pasta sauces or served simply with olive oil for dipping. It’s said the best balsamic comes from Modena. Enjoy generously when you find it on your table at restaurants and cafes and buy bottles to take home as gifts.

3)    Panzanella

The Mediterranean sunshine helps Italy to produce colourful, juicy produce such as tomatoes and peppers. With such fantastic and flavoursome ingredients at their disposal some of the best Italian dishes are simple meals built around this produce and Panzanelle is one of these dishes. Made from old crumbled bread, tomato, onion and basil, it’s a salad that originates from Tuscany.

4)    Prosciutto di Parma

Sated and cured in the hills of Parma, this delicious ham usually comes thin-sliced atop of salads or on plates of anti-pasti. It’s a protected food meaning true Prosciutto di Parma is only prepared in this region and it’s also one of Italy’s most popular exports.

5)    Risotto

After pasta and pizza, risotto is perhaps one of Italy’s more famous dishes and in the area of Lombardy it far outranks its doughy compadre in popularity. Choose from sweet and savoury options and pan-cooked or oven baked and enjoy the delicious creamy sauce created by starch from the al dente rice.

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