Italian cuisine is undoubtedly one of the best known and appreciated in the world and restaurants serving Italian cuisine in the world among the most popular by far, though often they have lost their ties with the homeland and the plates, therefore, have taken a local results, with crippling sometimes bordering on comedy.
The great strength of Italian cuisine, and, paradoxically, also its limit, is the great diversity that characterizes it. The cuisine of most states has a variety moving from region to region according to differences in climate, land, and the historical ones. In Italy these factors is extremely varied and diverse, have brought Italian cuisine to what it is, a kitchen that is very different by simply moving a few hundred miles.
The differences in climate and land are obvious: it goes from the Alps, with typical mountain climate, the Po Valley, continental climate, the hills of central, coastal areas, up to the southern regions and islands, with their temperate climate. These differences have an impact not only on the available raw material (for example the fish on the coast, inland to the flesh), but also on processed products. Think of a product used in the classic Italian cuisine such as sausages. In Emilia Romagna there is a humid climate with cold winters perfect for seasoning meats, which allows a minimal addition of salt and then the production of sausages and “soft”, in Tuscany the unfavorable environment requires the use of much salt, in the south has forced the addition of even more aggressive seasonings like chili pepper and other spices, to ensure the conservation and cover any unpleasant flavors of the meat.
The factor that most influenced Italian cuisine is, however, the historical one: the tumultuous history of our country, made up of continuous invasions and a high degree of fragmentation in the states and small states has led to a great cultural diversity which has greatly influenced the cuisine of each area. For example, dishes and typical cuisine of Emilia are Lombard and French-style, cow’s meat and pork, butter and milk. Entering Romagna, just out from the province of Bologna, traditional cuisine changes radically: the cheeses are sheep, sheep meat is consumed so much, and you use the extra virgin olive oil. The boundary that determines those differences is what divides the state of the Church and Lombard rule, first tied to the traditions of pastoralism and cultivation of the second related to the breeding of cattle. Such examples, there are dozens, all over the Italian territory, and that is why Italian food has become what it is, a collection of dozens of local and regional cuisines.
The disadvantage of not having a national cuisine Italian
The French do not deny we have a national cuisine, a true “Italian cuisine”, but had only a strong local cuisine, based on the “grandma’s dishes, so good, but certainly not refined. No accident that the great dishes of Italian cuisine famous around the world are actually simple dishes to fast food, like pizza or classic cuisine of the poor, such as pasta with tomato sauce. In contrast, the French cuisine is recognized as a great and fine cuisine with its rich national dishes: the great pastries, great dishes of meat, great cheese, egg dishes, etc.. In other words, less variety, but with major “pillars”.
If we look at the whole situation, having a kitchen so varied and these differences can only be an advantage. Perhaps the problem of Italian cuisine is a cultural… A problem of the Italians, rather than their kitchen. The parochialism and infighting between local authorities, duchies and small states that have marked our history have an impact on the image of our kitchen: the inability to make a system, typical of the Italian mentality, somehow prevents the Italian cuisine to appear as a great national cuisine, but as a set of small regional cuisines, the sum does not reach the absolute value it deserves.
Another problem arising from this approach is cultural narrowness of Italians if they are too often in the prior backyard, thinking that there is no better than the one that offers their territory and what their mother’s kitchen prepares home. This lack of openness can not do the Italians a people further back, in terms of food culture, compared to other countries, where the various cuisines of the world have been in contact with each other by making the taste of the public and open the mentality of the people.