Ciao, Italy: The taste of Italy

4 January 2021 text Dannie Nikolova
Italian cuisine is not just pasta, pizza and wine. Nor just dishes or eating culture. Italian cuisine bears the imprint of the local spirit and reveals historical features and regional identity.

It is the language through which these distinctive features are communicated, and we will go even further by declaring that it is a true art form. From the list of products for shopping, through the preparation, to the consumption of the dish: everything is of great importance to make it a masterpiece. However, each Italian region has its own specifics. Even each area adjacent to a region has something surprising. We are now introducing the Italian north!

All new on the Western front
The cuisine of Northwestern Italy is as diverse as the surrounding landscape: from the French and Swiss Alps to the rocky beaches of the Italian Riviera. Traditional Northwest dishes reflect the rich culinary heritage of the Valle d’Aosta, Piedmont, Liguria and Lombardy, and each of these regions retains its own style, enriched by the peculiarities of neighboring France and Switzerland (even some touches from Germany). However, the closer you get to ports and shores, the more prepared you need to be for seafood and international influences brought from all over the world.

To the east is eden
In the northeast, where the raw Dolomites rise, the dishes are richer in flavor: creamy, more often meaty, and the risotto and the polenta are among the typical substitutes for pasta. We find the traditions of the Northeast in the Byzantine Empire and the Far East, although dishes with potatoes, pork and sauerkraut should not seem so surprising to us due to the influence of its neighbors - Slovenia and Austria.

The Menu

Vegetable polenta with mushrooms

The history of polenta is longer and more twisted than the ones of the pizza and the pasta combined. On the other hand, the preparation is easy. To make delicious vegetable polenta, just fry some mushrooms and onions until they turn golden. Red pepper, coriander, cinnamon and minced garlic are the small details here that will make the culinary magic. The vegetables (zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, dried tomatoes, peppers) enter the pan one by one, and the polenta itself should taste good with turmeric. Fresh basil is never needless as a final touch before serving.

Melandzane ala Parmidjana

A classic northern Italian dish is Melandzane ala Parmidjana, or in two Bulgarian words: eggplant with parmesan. The piece of advice for the laymen here is to squeeze the well-salted aubergines in order to avoid the bitter taste, and for the more advanced – to peel it in a way that preserve part of the peel of the vegetables. Eggplant slices go in the pan for quick frying, and the taste of tomatoes is enriched with onions, garlic, oregano and basil, of course. In a pan you should alternate eggplant, tomato sauce and parmesan and bake briefly. Some experts sprinkle it with breadcrumbs in olive oil and freshly chopped oregano, while others serve it with pieces of mozzarella on top.

Sbrisolona cake

Sbrisolona is a dessert that has gained its cult status in the Lombardy region. Translated, its name means " collapsing " and this doesn't surprise us at all. Ground almonds, flour, semolina, sugar, orange peel and anise seeds mix well with butter and egg yolks. Bake until it turns golden and all attempts to cut it with a knife will be in vain. After all the baklava, chocolate and other forms of sugar we have recently ingested, this light Italian dessert is more than welcome.


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