The diversity of Italian gastronomy stems from the country’s long and complex history. With influences from ancient Roman, ancient Greek, Jewish, and Etruscan, Italian food truly developed over the thousands of years that had passed.
The country’s Roman ancestors enjoyed food banquets and brought in pepper and ginger spices. The Greeks introduced simple preparation of food and the art of cooking seafood. It is said that it was in Sicily where culinary traditions from Rome and Athens merged and a cuisine was developed, the first real Italian cooking.
But then the Arabs marched into Sicily during the 9th century and this is when rice, spinach, and almonds became part of Italian food. The Norman conquest in Sicily and Southern Italy during the tenth to twelfth centuries brought about the presence of dried and salted fish and casseroles in Italian kitchen. The Arab’s Mediterranean cuisine then dominated the southern Italian regions and the Roman and German influences remained in the north.
During the 14th to 15th century, Italian cuisine revolved around the use of potatoes, corn, mushrooms, and spinach. This is also when recipes for macaroni, pies, tarts, fritters, fish dishes, and pizza were published.
Chefs from the 16th century tried to establish fusion cooking to give more emphasis on the country’s regional diversity. They somewhat failed in their quest as French cuisine seem to have dominated the continent up until the early 18th century. Only when the French found their way on the border region that Italian cuisine made a name on its own. The Unification of Italy in 1861 did not, however, affect the gastronomic diversity in the country as each region managed to maintain its distinct cuisine.
Such rich history indeed will result to a cuisine that is so rich, intense, and luxuriant in many different ways.
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