We all think we know the cuisine of Italy. No matter where you go in the world, the major cities and towns will have Italian restaurants. Italian food is whipped up in our own kitchens either from simple ready to use ingredients bought from the grocery store or from delicious produce brought from a local delicatessen. Even if you have a pasta sauce recipe passed down the generations from Nonna to Mama, nothing beats the authenticity and taste of real Italian produce sampled in the place where it is grown or made, or in the town where the world famous dish originated.
You may be dreaming of tours to Europe that take you to Italy with anticipation of fresh fragrant lemons from Sicily, plump green olives from Liguria, white bean stew from Tuscany or spaghetti bolognese from the gorgeous renaissance university city of Bologna. There are some signature regional dishes that have crossed the borders and found home in recipe books, restaurants and home kitchens all around the world. Here is how to eat like a local in Italy.
The modern pizza is a very different animal to the original. What today comes in deep pan, square and whole wheat versions with stuffed crusts and weird ingredients like pineapple, cannot be compared to the experience of a freshly baked Pizza Margherita straight out of the brick oven in a tiny, packed pizzeria in the back streets of Naples. Although unproven that it was first made here, Naples is the spiritual home of the pizza. It is thought to have begun life as simple peasant food - a slab of inexpensive dough stretched out and spread with juicy ripe tomatoes and baked until the edges puff up and go crispy, leaving a deliciously soft springy centre.