What to Expect from Italy Food

Italy food is perhaps one of the most important draws for tourists and expatriates (including retirees), though it is also important to Italian citizens. This is perhaps why the Italian cuisine has become so popular. However, while you may find a number of Italian restaurants in the United States, they are not necessarily authentic. What short of Italy food can you expect upon retirement to the country?

First, you are probably picturing large portions of spaghetti with meat sauce as a main dish.

However, there are few pastas in Italy that use a meat sauce (the few that do are scrumptious with days of preparation involved), and you’ll note that vegetables and seafood are more common fare with your pasta. Even the shape of your pasta – spaghetti, rigatoni, etc – will depend on the region in which you are living.

Different Food for Different Regions

Italy is divided into three distinct regions – Northern, Central, and Southern. In the northern region, the two staples of the diet are polenta (made from maize or corn) and rice made into risotto.

When you move into Venice, you’ll find a lot more fish dishes due to the presence of such creatures in the lagoons. Look for mollusks, sardines, crustaceans, and other fish. Bologna, considered the culinary capital of the world, is famous for fresh pasta, especially tortellini.
Because the weather is warmer, you’ll find more tomato based cuisine in central Italy. Leafy green vegetables are also popular such as kale. Traditional dishes in this area are often mixed grilled or roasted meats, including pork, poultry and beef all in one dish. Saffron grows well here and is used in many dishes, and chestnuts are prime eating.

Southern Italy Food Options

Best Pizza Ever!
While touring Italy about 10 years ago I had the pleasure of ordering pizza and it was quite different than the pizza I was used to in Canada.
First, it was cooked in about 3 minutes – I was amazed at how fast it was ready. Secondly, it was thin crust pizza where in Canada I had only eaten thick crust.
The ingredients were all very fresh making for an extremely zesty meal.

In the southern part of Italy, food consists of a diet that is considered to be a bit poorer, especially because the area is not affluent and the land is not conducive to rich vegetation. Mostly, pasta is served at two meals a day, though usually with different sauces and a variety of flavors. Pizza is a favorite here, and pork is used as a beloved source of fat for cooking sausages like mortadella, pancetta, ham, bacon, and a number of other meats. Eel and shellfish are popular and are usually cooked in wine Mediterranean style.

Italy food is also big on cheese, from mozzarella and pecorino to ricotta and caciocavallo. Most dishes are cooked with some sort of cheese, so be careful if you are lactose intolerant and always ask before you order!

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