Italians love fashion. The way you dress and appearance is very important to them. They are probably the most stylish people in the world. Most women would hyperventilate at the sight of Italian shoes. I on the other hand came home with luggage containing salami, cheeses, chocolates, and not a single pair of footwear. Probably I am unlike most women. What makes my chest hurt in euphoria is the sight of a kilo sun dried tomatoes costing one euro, white truffles, holding the noble nebbolio grape in my hand, sipping Barolo and Barbaresco, San Daniele Parma ham, and gasping at the sight of the Grana Panado factory filled with of hundreds of aging cheeses…
Italian regional cuisine is all about their DOP and DOCs. DOP for food or DOC for wines means “designation of origin”. It means adhering to the production controls and the standards of the region. DOCG means government guaranteed. I guess the most logical way to understand REAL Italian cuisine is to study their map. Geography and terrain are very significant to food and wine production. Also as a chef it is very important that you remain true to a classical recipe and use only the best quality ingredients from a specific region. No wonder our Chef Simonne kept on saying “Know the region and where the recipe is from. They are going to ask that during your exam.”
Italian cuisine is all about letting the flavor of the ingredients speak for themselves. They season very lightly, but sometimes too bland from an Asian perspective. They use more fresh herbs than spices. They have very simple cooking methods and believe in the “slow food” philosophy. Food and wine pairing in a meal is of great importance. So is starting the day and ending a meal with an espresso. This is a country that takes great pride and pleasure in its food.
If there would be a metaphor for me to describe Italian food I would say it is like Salad Caprese. Insalata Caprese is made with fresh salad tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil leaves, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive. It is very simple and lightly seasoned. The combination of the tartness of tomatoes, the distinct taste of sweet basil, and the feel in the mouth of the bursting creaminess of the bufala mozzarella is one of pure bliss!