5 Italian Food Traditions

There are few aspects of Italian culture as distinctive as the cuisine. Steeped in passion and tradition, Italian cuisine is deeply focused on ingredients rather than techniques. Our love for the food of Italy has always driven us not only to learn about the traditions of Italian cooking but to stay true to them by using high quality ingredients sourced right in Italy. It’s always our goal to bring true Italian tradition to your kitchen through our sauces, but let us take it a step further and share with you some of our favourite traditions that you can bring to your kitchen at home:

Keep it Fresh & Local

Italian cuisine centers around fresh and local ingredients. Local food markets are a long-standing Italian tradition that offer fresh produce that’s both healthy and delicious. Local markets also give shoppers an opportunity to speak directly to harvesters and producers, ensuring the highest quality ingredients.

Keep it Seasonal

If you’re keeping it fresh and local it should follow that you’re also eating seasonally. Contrary to the popular belief that vegetables are primarily available during warm weather seasons, there is a vegetable for every season. During colder months, look for veggies like Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, squash, and fennel.

The Taste Test

Nothing illustrates the passion of Italian cuisine more than the taste test. The image of the matriarch of the house bent over a pot tasting steaming pasta sauce off a wooden spoon isn’t just a cliché. In fact, a proper Italian cook always tastes and seasons food while it’s cooking rather than afterwards. This helps salt and other seasonings dissolve properly, which means using less of them and achieving perfectly delicate balance.

So. Many. Courses.

Traditional Italian meals are leisurely affairs with several courses. While Nothing is set in stone, and it can certainly vary for weeknight dinners, traditional dinners often comprise of five or more courses:

Aperitivo – a light meal opener often consisting of a small amount of olives, nuts, cheese, etc.

Antipasto – a slightly heavier appetizer that might include charcuterie, vegetables, or cold seafood.

Primo – a first course usually consisting of hot food that’s heavier than the antipasto but not quite as heavy as the second course. Popular choices include soup, pasta, risotto, or polenta.

Secondo e contorno – the main course and side dish, which might include meat or fish and vegetable side dish.

Insalata – a salad course that might be omitted if the contorno, or side dish, was made with a lot of leafy vegetables.

Formaggi e frutta – a course dedicated to cheese and fruit. Enough said.

Dolce – the dessert course, which might include favourites like tiramisu, panna cotta, or cake.

Digestivo e caffe – it’s hard to eat like an Italian without finishing out a meal with espresso and a digestive alcoholic beverage, like limoncello.

Pasta is a Solo Act

If you were paying attention to the list of courses outlined above, you probably noticed that pasta and risotto are served as their own course in Italian cuisine. No, pasta is not a side dish and it certainly shouldn’t be accompanied by a salad. While we’re on the topic, there’s also a proper way to cook pasta to get the perfect bowl.