Influence of Food on Italian Culture

Italy is a Western European country with thousands of cities and tourist attractions. However, it is the most famous for its cuisine. It comprises a great number of culinary traditions, which reflects a history of the country affected by regionalism and political divergence, which has led to the strict distinctions of Italian cuisine among regions. Reflecting a history distinguished by provincial loyalties and political divergence, a huge number of gastronomic practices make Italian food heritage inconceivably plentiful and more appealing today than the cuisine of any other country.

Food in Italian culture is not only a means of satisfying physical necessity. It is something hidden deep in Italians’ DNA. Since ancient times, it has become a cult. Thus, Italian cuisine is rather significant and well-known all over the world and within the country. Italians enjoy eating with families and friends. They have a traditional Sunday lunch, which is the great occasion to bring a big family around one table and enjoy a dinner with relatives. The pleasure of sharing a meal with family is known to be the main ingredient of any Italian dish.

Probably, this cult of food evolved throughout many centuries and was influenced by different factors. The regional distinction is one of the most noticeable features of Italian cuisine. There are near twenty regions in Italy, and they all have different traditional dishes. It is because long ago, it was extremely troublesome for Italians to go to other regions within the country. Consequently, different ways of cooking and kinds of meals and dishes appeared.

North Italy is considerably different from Southern because of its geographical location and climatic conditions. It resulted in great distinctions in cuisines. The southern part of the country is mostly coastal, thus, fish became the main food there. On the contrary, North Italy is mountainous in some parts, which results in chicken, veal, lamb, and rabbit meat being the main ingredients of meals. In the north of the country, only white cream sauce is served with the pasta, while the southerners prefer more tomatoes. Besides, the warm weather in the south and cold in the north of the country influence the cuisine evolution. For instance, olives trees grow better in warm climate of Southern Italy. In Southern Italy, dry pasta, spaghetti, is more popular and easy to prepare than in the north part of the country, where tagliatelle and pappardelle kinds of pasta are popular (Daly, 1900).

Since the ancient times, historical events have a significant impact on the Italian cuisine. Italian culinary uniqueness developed over the centuries through an exchange of information and techniques among different regions and social classes. Italian cuisineinvolves valuable techniques, dishes, ingredients, and customs, which have made it well-known at present.

The gastronomic evolution of Italy passed through a downturn for several decades in the early eighteenth century, because French cuisine dominated the continent. However, after French practices of cooking were adopted in Piedmont (the neighboring with France region) and completely integrated into Italian cuisine through the second half of the eighteenth century, Italian food culture experienced another breakthrough.

Eventually, after Italian coalescence, in the middle of the nineteenth century, unique “partitions” of the Italian peninsula made apparent, individual contributions to the general gastronomic picture. Right after that, significant cookbook The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well, which comprised of illustrative Italian household dishes, appeared. In the second half of the twentieth century, Italy experienced a revived concentration on the natural flavors of quality ingredients, which appeared mainly because of progress in transportation that have made regional peculiarities and tastes available across the country and throughout the world.

During military time, especially from 1940 to 1946, military diets emerged because of obligatory food restrictions. It was rather exciting that the particularly limited availability of products and necessity to feed soldiers on the battlefield resulted in new technologies and examined the limitations of culinary availability. The fact is that one of the greatest inequalities between demand and availability of goods for millions of people are considerably recent. The strangest thing is that these shortages mostly harmed urban areas, which were completely protected by the public officials’ resources. Even in such difficult time, Italians observed formal rules of cooking and food presentation, thus, they began to substitute lacking items with agricultural products, revise recipes based on diminished resources, and take care of all leftovers. Actually, it is necessary to mention that during war years, publication of recipe books was continuous. The books were written to teach people how to use the accessible foodstuff and make poverty tolerant. Food shortages, undernourishment, and vitamin shortages are issues inherent to a history that one decisively names modern assigned by rigorous economic recessions and the policies of war. Such facts certainly affected the compensatory quality of the culinary practices that appeared over the past fifty years. The intrusion and occupation of Italy by different countries throughout its long history, introduced new practices, technologies, and ingredients into national cuisine (Capatty, Montanary, 2003).

Italy is a country that has its uniqueness, identity, and worldwide fame. Culinary practices and the culture of food are fundamental issues of this identity. Italians put an emphasis on healthy lifestyle that involves consuming well-prepared food using high-quality regional products that have become the center of the Italian gastronomic cuisine nowadays. The Italian tradition of enjoying extended several course meals that glorify life and cuisine as equal counterparts at the table.

Italian recipes are known and copied in households and restaurants all over the world. Italian cuisine, despite the fact that it comprises the rich diversity of its origins, does not require a tireless search for imported products as they are easily accessible in the markets all over the world. Pizzas and pastas, the basis of traditional Italian cuisine, stay among the most recognizable symbols of Italy, and they donate to the embodiment of a distinct, consolidate image of Italy that becomes more explicit far away from Italian borders.