As well as being renowned as the centre of the Renaissance, Italy is also known for its incredible food. Pizza, pasta, ice cream, cheese, and meat - the list goes on. This amazing array of deliciousness is an attraction in itself, the dishes being a significant part of the culture, and way of life for many. This is an attempt to describe some of the most famous meals Italy provides; whilst giving a possible insight into what exactly went on behind those first kitchen doors.
First and foremost; Pizza. Defined as a dish of Italian origin, a round baked flatbread topped with tomatoes and cheese, and typically meat, fish, or vegetables. However, it seems that the most basic concept of Pizza may not have actually been native to Italy. It was the Ancient Greeks who covered their flatbreads with oil, herbs and cheese. The Romans, who later invaded Greece, also had a dish, which resembled an early Pizza; a sheet of dough topped with cheese, honey, and flavored with bay leaves. It's generally accepted that Pizza evolved from these flatbread dishes, though there is no official origin story. A popular legend is that Margarita Pizza was invented in 1889, when Raffaele Esposito, the local pizza maker, was commissioned to make a dish welcoming Queen Margherita. Supposedly, he chose the toppings to represent the Italian flag; Green Basil, White mozzarella, and red tomato. Though we may never know if the story was true, it does provided a little something special to one of the most loved dishes across the globe.
Although the basic idea of Pizza seems to have been around for a long time, pasta, as we know it today, is a much older dish. The first historical reference to pasta appears to be in a piece from 1BCE Rome, stating that thin sheets of fried dough were a staple diet of many. The dish began to get a little more interesting; in the second century, the same doughy dish was mentioned, but this time with crushed lettuce, spices and oil. In the fifth Century, an Italian cook-book described a dish made from layers of pasta with meat stuffing, the early lasagna. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when travel throughout Europe became more common, pasta became a common food for dry storage, and approximately a century later, it was found to be present around the world. The quick spread of such a dish suggests that, despite living hundreds of years previously, our ancestors shared our tastes.
Ice Cream seems to not have the same 'ancient' origins as the previous two dishes, it's first mention being somewhere around the sixteenth century. When Italian Duchess Catherine de'Medici married the Duke of Orleans, its said that she brought her personal chefs with her to France, who had recipes for flavored ice, or sorbets. These recipes seemed to reach the general public of France in the late seventeenth century, but despite becoming popular as a French dish, the origin of this Iced Cream was still Italian.
These foods are all incredibly popular, and known throughout today's world, a demonstration of how delicious they are. This gives strong evidence to the claim that as well as being a hub of culture, art, and history, Italy is also home to possibly some of the most mouthwatering meals around the globe.