I am back from spending three amazing weeks in Italywith the CIA's Food, Wine, and Agriculture trip, which is offered in the Junior year of our Bachelors program.
24 other students and I spent our three weeks traveling from Northern Italy to Southern Italy, learning all about the different types of food and wine that is enjoyed there, as well as spending time on farms, vineyards, in factories, and in cities filled with history, architecture, and culture.
One of the main things that I learned about Italian cuisine is that, despite what Americans would like to think, isn't all about spaghetti and meatballs. In Italy, cuisine is regional (think of each region being smaller than that of a U.S. state), and changes with each region you pass through. Everything is influenced on seasonality, locality, and freshness, which is why we always hear about how amazing Italian food really is.
The Basics: In the North, you have heavier dishes such as risotto, polenta, a lot of cream and cheese-based dishes, game, and red meat. In the South, you have a lot of light fish, seafood, and tomato-based dishes featuring fresh pasta.
See the difference already? This is the best part about Italian cuisine. No matter where you go, there is something to enjoy and experience!
Some highlights from my trip,
starting in the North and ending in the South
Venice, Friuli, Verona
Cjalzons; Stuffed Pasta with Smoked Ricotta Cheese and Cinnamon
Risotto with pumpkin, pine nuts, and cheese
While we were in Verona, we ate at a Chicchetteria, which is a type of Italian restaurant that specializes in finger foods. It was one of my favorite meals!
Meatballs with Tomato Sauce
Miniature Tiramisu, Dark Chocolate Cake, White Chocolate, Cake, and Cake made with Nuts
Legs of Prosciutto di Parma
Emilia Romagna: Parma & BolognaIf you are ever looking for a region of Italy with the widest "bounty" of products, it would have to be Parma. Here, we experienced Proscuitto, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Balsamico all in the same place! It was heaven.
Sliced Prosciutto di Parma
Parmigiano Reggiano in the Aging Room
Parmigiano Reggiano with Aged Balsamic
In the Main Square of Bologna
Traditional Bolognese Meat Sauce
Lasagne Bolognese: Spinach Pasta, Meat Ragu, Beschamel Sauce
The Beautiful (and unique) City of Sienna
Parsley Pasta with Culatello (a Special Cured Meat made from the Butt of the Pig), Cheese, and Cream
Florence, Sorrento, Capri
Mixed Seafood Salad
Fresh Tomato Bruschetta
Pizzaioli; Fried Pizzas with Fresh Tomato Sauce, Parmesean and Basil
Buffalo Mozzarella, Fresh Tomato, Arugula
Sfogiliatelle; A Traditional Layered Neopolitan Pastry
Wheatberry Pie; A Neopolitan Easter Dessert
These photos are just a small taste of the fantastic food I experienced throughout my stay in beautiful Italia. As you can see, traveling from North to South really does give you a unique food opportunity, and allows you to taste every part of what Italy has to offer!
Stay hungry and curious,