Beyond the Stereotype

 
The mere mention of Italian food conjures up specific imagery, dishes, and even a few basic ingredients.

While the stereotypical Italian restaurant in America (and to a great extent any country outside of Italy) reliably serves up plates of hot pasta with tomato or cream-based sauces, this is far from true Italian cuisine. Or, at the very least, the stereotype represents only a small part of the many diverse and multi-regional styles that make up Italy’s total gastronomic picture.

The culinary history of Italy is deeply indebted to cross-cultural currents of people and societies from over three thousand years of history that slowly defined the Italian peninsula as a geographical, political, and cultural entity--and that was long before anything even remotely resembling a national cuisine could be established.

Indeed, international Italian cuisine often has specific, easily identifiable, common characteristics that can be traced to specific regions or that resemble customs in general usage throughout the country. But the geographically defined area recognized today as Italy itself has a cuisine as diverse and multifaceted as its long, complex history.


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