Italy is known for its amazing food. Wherever you travel in Italy you are bound to discover something great food wise; whether it’s a dish you’ve never heard of or a different version of a classic. From town to town and family to family, recipes differ but are all presented with love and pride. Below we share some new discoveries and old time favourites.
literally meaning eviction in Italian, this stick-like pastry filled with a nut and honey mixture resembles the eviction sticks used by Medici officers to knock on Jewish family doors and order them from their homes and into the ghetto in the 1600s. Make sure you get freshly made sfratto, they are usually dated and they do dry out after several days.
A hand rolled pasta that looks like a big spaghetti without the hole. It is typically made using only flour and water so it is adequate for a vegan diet. Served with meat or porcini sauce, it can also be found outside of Siena.
Torta al testo (all over Umbria)
Basically a round, flat bread, folded and filled with meat and cheese and then grilled, sometimes directly on hot coals in the fireplace. It is a lot like the piadina you find in Emilia Romagna.
Porchetta (all over Italy)
Stories vary on where it actually originated but wherever it came from you can enjoy it pretty much everywhere in Italy. Usually as a whole pig, deboned and rolled back together with a stuffing of herbs & seasonings that often includes the pig’s liver. It is then roasted to golden, crackling skin, perfection.
Typically shaped in a horseshoe form, it is prepared from the fall through January. It is a pastry made with flour, eggs, salt and water and filled with a mix of fruit and nuts that sometimes includes Vin Santo. Equally delicious with a cup of tea, coffee or a glass of red wine.
Named lumachelle, meaning little snails, because of their shape, these small pastries are made with a savoury dough and bits of pancetta & pecorino cheese. A perfect snack for aperitivo or any time of day.
Lenticchie di Castelluccio (Norcia)
Castelluccio lentils have been grown in the Norcia area for centuries. The small brownish lentil is an edible pulse similar to the French de Puy lentil. It is delicate in flavour and tender in texture. They keep their integrity when cooked so they are perfect for salad dishes and absolutely amazing in the traditional Lenticchie di Castelluccio con salsicce (lentils and sausage).
No Italian food list (or trip) would be complete without the mention of gelato. No matter how many trips to Italy you take you will probably never be able to taste every flavour, but you can always enjoy trying. You will, of course, indulge in your favourites (mine is pistachio) but try something new as well, maybe gorgonzola or zuppa inglese. With gelato shops as populous as Starbucks in North America, Italy is an ice cream lovers paradise.
Next time you’re travelling through Italy, we hope you’ll try some of these or ask a local what their town is known for and don’t be afraid to try it. You may not like everything you taste but you will surely discover new foods to love.