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Marco: All About Italian Lesson 7 – The Top Five Italian Dishes You Have to Try!
Marco: Hi,everybody, and welcome back to All About Italian. Today we are talking about Italian cuisine!
Laura: "Ciao a tutti!" Did you say Italian cuisine? Oh my God, we need hours of lessons!
Marco: Ah, ah, right. We'll just try to summarize as much as possible.
Laura: Okay. By the way, I love Italian food.
Marco: Sure, me too. When we think about Italy, it is very hard not to think about Italian food.
Laura: Yes, it is an important aspect of our culture.
Marco: Throughout the world, people imitate Italian cooking in restaurants but also at home. Italian cuisine is greatly loved.
Laura: …but probably a majority of these people don't know that Italy is a country of great variety. Cooking is just another aspect of the diversity of Italian culture, because local traditions result from long, complex historical developments and strongly influence local habits.
Marco: This is why it is very common in Italy to find different variants of recipes and products even within a few miles of distance.
Laura: Before we go on to the food, let's first talk about Italian table etiquette.
Marco: Before eating, it is customary to say "buon appetito," which means "enjoy your meal," as a way to show gratitude for the meal.
Laura: Oh, that's right, and then you should wait until everybody has the meal on his or her plate before starting.
Marco: Please remember to avoid putting your elbows on the table, and…
Laura: When you eat your first dish, don't use a spoon to twirl the spaghetti.
Marco: Really? That's why I never saw Italians eating spaghetti with a spoon…
Laura: Ah, ah! Let's continue…the Italian second dish is usually a plate of meat or fish that is accompanied by a piece of bread. You should put your bread on the tablecloth beside your plate.
Marco: If you wish to pour water or wine into your glass, you should check the other people's glasses first. If these are not full, you should pour the drink into their glasses and only then into yours.
Laura: When you want to use a toothpick, you can do it at the table, but you should cover your mouth with your other hand.
Marco: Lastly, any sort of guttural sound is inappropriate.
Laura: Such as slurping and sniffling!
Marco: It is considered very rude in Italy!
Laura: Oh, yes.
Marco: Now that we're at the table, let's talk about the food!
Laura: Italian cooking is exceptionally varied, nutritious, and healthy.
Marco: There are few overweight people in Italy.
Laura: And every single region, district, and city looks back to centuries of traditions passed on from family to family, giving us an incalculable number of recipes.
Marco: Yes. It's impossible to try all of them! However, all these recipes have some major ingredients in common, right?
Laura: Yes, first of all, tomatoes and tomato sauce, is also often used as a symbol of Italy because it is used in the preparation of many dishes.
Marco: I also know that Italy has been exporting tomatoes all around the world for decades.
Laura: The second major ingredient is cheese, especially mozzarella cheese. In Italy, you can eat hundreds of types of cheese, from the most delicate to the spiciest ones.
Marco: First dishes are made up mainly of pasta, whether dry pasta or fresh pasta.
Laura: There are soooo many types of pasta. It can be long, like spaghetti or "tagliatelle," or short like “penne” or "fusilli," and can be shaped in many different ways.
Marco: And all have different and sometimes funny names.
Laura: Continuing with Italian cuisine's major ingredients, we have olives and olive oils, which give the food a pleasant Mediterranean flavor, and they are used as a dressing for almost every meal.
Marco: "Buono l'olio di oliva!"
Laura: Among the herbs, basil and parsley, are the most often used.
Marco: Finally, in Italian cuisine, there is a large presence of cold cuts, with hundreds of types of salami, ham, and sausages.
Laura: As a result, the combination of these ingredients gives us a huge choice of recipes.
Marco: Exactly! You can't even imagine how many!
Laura: Now we are going to give you the top five regional dishes.
Marco: These dishes are now part of the Italian national cuisine and are prepared all around Italy.
Laura: But it's important, especially for Italians, to remember the origins of certain famous recipes.
Marco: Absolutely.
Laura: Let's start with an appetizer.
Marco: Okay, "Caprese!"
Laura: Among appetizers, the most famous regional dish is "Insalata Caprese," made of sliced "mozzarella di bufala," which is "water buffalo mozzarella," plum tomatoes, and basil.
Marco: Mozzarella cheese and "caprese" were first made in Campania, in the region of Napoli. It is also very important to remember that pizza's origins go back to this region as well.
Laura: Yeah, "la pizza napoletana!" Now it's a national treasure!
Marco: Let's now go on with dish number two, “lasagna”.
Laura: "Lasagne alla Bolognese" is a dish from the region of Emilia-Romagna.
Marco: It is made by alternating layers of pasta; "ragù," which is "meat sauce"; and Béchamelam cheese. Another version of lasagna is made with vegetables.
Laura: Oh, "lasagna" is Garfield's favorite plate!
Marco: Ah, ah. That's true! Dish number three is "risotto."
Laura: Rice in Italy is mainly cultivated in north Italy, and this recipe has its roots in the region of Piemonte.
Marco: The basic preparation consists of boiled rice in broth with parmesan cheese, but there are many versions.
Laura: One of the most famous is probably the one with saffron.
Marco: Oh Laura, I'm starting to get hungry…
Laura: I hope it's not a problem for you, Marco, if I tell you dish number four of our chart…"Spaghetti alla Carbonara!"
Marco: Oh, "spaghetti alla Carbonara" comes from Lazio. So delicious...
Laura: "Carbonara" can be prepared also with other types of pasta, such as "rigatoni" or "bucatini," but the sauce is always made of eggs; "pecorino romano," which is a cheese made of sheep's milk; smoked bacon; and black pepper.
Marco: From first courses, let's go directly to number five, a second course.
Laura: Number five is "bistecca alla Fiorentina."
Marco: "Bistecca" in Italian stands for "steak," and "fiorentina" means "Florentine," from the city of Florence.
Laura: The Tuscan cuisine is characterized by rustic simplicity, and preparing this huge slice of beef is pretty easy.
Marco: Oh, really? How can we do that?
Laura: The meat must be quickly grilled for five or six minutes and seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper, and sometimes also a bit of lemon. "Bistecca alla fiorentina" is usually served with some salad.
Marco: That's easy! I tried all of these dishes and they are all delicious!
Laura: Yes, I know. Unfortunately, we don't have enough time to talk about everything concerning Italian food, and it was really hard to reduce so many regional dishes to only five!!
Marco: I see… Please Laura, let's go to eat now!
Laura: Okay, but do not forget to say "buon appetito!"
Marco: Ah yes, "buon appetito!"
Laura: "Ciao a tutti!"
Marco: "Ciao!" Follow us in our next All About Italy lesson at ItalianPod101.com!