A Guide to What to Eat in Italy I.

Even though the amazing Italian pizza is the alpha and omega of my stay whenever I am in the Mediterranean country (literally this is the first and last thing I eat whenever I go), I am fond of experimenting with other meals, many of which I haven’t come across in Hungary before. Maybe I lived under a rock?!

As much as I love the narrow streets, castle ruins, and the beautiful landscape, the last time I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Calabria, I put most of my focus on food. And as a result, my pants don’t fit too comfortably now in the waist area.

Talking about Italian gastronomy, the second thing that usually comes to people’s mind after pizza is pasta, and I made sure to max my pasta experience out. Today many consider it an everyday meal all around the world, but did you know that once it was only available for the Italian nobles? The Americans only developed a love affair with pasta during the 20th century, while in Italy, it was a beloved meal ever since the 14th century, or probably even before.

Pesto trofie pasta

For Italians, food is religion. Considering their passion towards the act of eating and/or cooking I am not surprised that every single thing I’ve eaten (home-cooked and restaurant-style alike) was heavenly and of high quality. Some of their most amazing dishes are very easy to make like pesto trofie pasta; the locally-made fresh pasta is stored in fridges in the supermarkets, all you have to do is take it home and cook as requested on the package. When it’s done, mix the pasta with your chosen pesto – I’ve tried green pesto and the one with noci (walnut) and both are very delicious with a hint of parmesan cheese.

Flickr: Marco Verch

Spaghetti all’amatriciana

It is needless to say that the Italian cuisine wouldn’t be the same without tomato sauce. Being an essential ingredient, the very first reference to tomato and pasta comes from the 1800’s, when a recipe was written about pasta al Pomodoro in Naples. Today it is used in a variety of their meals, one of them being Pasta all’amatriciana, a reason why I would never become a vegetarian. The tomato sauce and the Guanciale (or bacon if you don’t have that at home) harmonize very well in the dish, and as a finishing touch, it is sprinkled with grated cheese (pecorino is the original ingredient but parmesan will also be fine). Note: I’ve tried it home-made, but it is available in restaurants too.

Linguine pasta alle vongole

If you love seafood, this pasta dish is going to be your new favourite. Not only is it mouth-watering, but also looks irresistible. The main ingredients are fresh clams, garlic, white wine, olive oil, finely chopped parsley, and of course linguine pasta. (No tomato sauce this time.) Don’t worry, there’s no need for any special skill to consume this dish, as the clams are already open when they get on your plate. Very delicious!

+1: Gnocchi alla sorrentina

Is there anyone on the planet who doesn’t like gnocchi? The small dumplings made from potato and semolina (or flour) are usually served with a sauce, tomato in the case of gnocchi alla sorrentina. It’s a summertime oven-baked dish, originated from Sorrento, Campania, prepared with basil leaves, a sprinkle of grated parmesan, and light & creamy mozzarella which, together with the flavourful sauce, make it very moist.