Italian food is very popular in North America but most of us only really know part of the story. While some of the more traditional Italian dishes might closely resemble the recipes we know and love in the United States and Canada, the cultural roots of each of these dishes go back generations. And when you eat authentic Italian food, you can actually taste the heritage.
But it is more than just family recipes passed down from generation to generation. True
Bello Deli Italian food is not defined by the country, as a whole, but by the 20 different regions of the country. Each of these nearly two dozen regions is home to a different variety of fresh produce and climates which support different lifestyles. This gives way to a country that is rich not only in culinary heritage but in culinary diversity as well.
Known for its volcanic soil, this region is home to the fated Mt Pompei. It is also the home of one of Italy’s notable potables: limoncello. Obviously, volcanic soil bears great citrus fruit. However, Campania is also home to the capital city of Naples, and is known for some Western favorites like buffalo mozzarella, calzones, and pizza.
If Italy is a boot, as many say, then Sicily is the island the boot is kicking. Home to Mt Etna, Sicily is similar to Campania in that it is rich in volcanic soil. That means it is an excellent region for growing citrus fruits, olives, almonds, and other various types of produce. Dishes of this region tend to favor rabbit and lamb with pasta and spicy, heady sauces.
Home to chianti wine—commonly drunk in Italian restaurants of the West—Tuscany is also the birthplace of the dry, crumbled cheese known as pecorino. It is also home to Florence and, as a central region, has cuisine which more widely celebrates soups and rustic pastas over rich sauces.
Lombardy is a northern region most known for rice and polenta dishes and not for pasta. Butter and lard are more prevalent than oil here, after all. Perhaps more than dishes like these, though, Lombardy is perhaps best known as the birthplace of the blue-veined Gorgonzola cheese as well as the tangy sandwich staple Provolone and the lesser known—but equally tasty—soft and ripe Taleggio cheese.