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I have lived in the U.S. for many years now, but still maintain good contact with Italy since I spend about three months a year there. Over the years one of the things I missed most when I was back on the North American side of the pond is the lack of authentic Italian food. More recently, however, there has been a better selection of good Italian products more readily available in the United States. Here are just some of the products, found at Costco, that are Italian or enjoyed in Italy:
Panettone or Pandoro: An Italian Christmas Dilemma
Christmas is just around the corner and, where Italians are concerned, food is one of the main components in the festivities.
There are many traditional products eaten by Italians during the Christmas season, and two of the most famous are the pandoro and the panettone.
The pandoro is a traditional Christmas cake made from flour, butter and eggs, which was originally produced in Verona. Verona is not only the town where the first pandoro was made, but remains the place most associated with this delicious creation.
Study Shows That U.S. Extra Virgin Olive Oil Might Actually Be Better Than Some Italian Brands
The ancient Greek poet Homer once referred to olive oil as "liquid gold," not surprising considering that it has been a staple of the Mediterranean diet for centuries. In the last decade or so, using olive oil instead of other types of oil and butter has become increasingly popular across the globe, including in the United States. The reasons for this rise in popularity are many: foremost is the fact that olive oil is far healthier than other types of vegetable and hydrogenated oils, butter, and margarine.
Italian Food Products
What is risotto and why is it different from your average rice dish?
Italy has more than its share of world-class food products. Truffles, cheeses, sausages, hams and much more, all core elements to Italy’s famous cuisine. But what actually are these, other than delicious sounding foods? How are they prepared? When are they traditionally eaten in Italy? From what region do they hail from? What are the best Italian dishes or hams? And where can you find them?
Salumi is not a term that is heard often outside Italy, yet many of these products are found in specialty shops, Italian delicatessens and are used by cooks the world over. Some examples, like Prosciutto need no introduction while others are not usually seen outside the mother country. Salumi is a large family of high-quality cured meats that go beyond Italy's famous hams, lending their flavors to terrific appetizers as well as main courses.
The white truffle might smell like earth, tree roots and old cheese, but this gastronomical object of desire, from Italy's Piedmont region, is very famous for its aroma, taste and aphrodisiac qualities. For centuries people have travelled from near and far just to savor a little piece. It is a gastronomical jewel only to be experienced at its fullest intensity in Alba, Italy.
Without a doubt, there are millions of dishes in which the tomato is one of the principle ingredients, or in which it is used as the base for recipes. It could be for its color, flavour, or versatility, and heaven knows the tomato has travelled a long way since the ancient Aztecs, to finally find itself in today's recipes. The tomato accompanied corn, potatoes, hot peppers (pepperoncino) and the sweet potato on its journey to finally be introduced in Spain at the beginning of the 1500's ( during the crossing voyages of Cristoforo Colombo).
Salami (Salame in Italian) is yet another example of an Italian sausage tradition that has been abused by mass production and over processing. In America salami has been reduced to pre-sliced waxy discs on sandwiches and pizza that barely resembles their namesake. However just like many foods still made in their time-honored way in Italy, Salami (or Salame) is way beyond similarly named products found in most supermarkets.
Saffron in Italy is best known in Italy as a red powder to spread over Risotto alla Milanese. This red powder provides the risotto with its characteristic yellow color, and it adds color and flavor to other Italian rice-based dishes.
Navelli in Abruzzo, just south of the National Park of Gran Sasso, is considered the world capital for high quality saffron.
Saffron comes from a fall-blooming crocus flower (Above), Crocus
Pinoli or "pine nuts" are gathered by mustering through leaves on the ground near pine trees, around August or September - they are found inside huge pine cones and embedded within their hard oblong foliage.
It's in these layers of the pine cone where, the tender nuts are housed - nestled in between its flaps and encased within a shell. The pine nut's outer shell is dusted with a thin black magical powder and a delicate golden skin. They are highly prized for making a mix of olive oil and Parmigiano cheese. They are abundant in many Italian dessert recipes, and especially used on biscotti-cookies.
Being a third-generation Sicilian American, pesto sauces were not common in my family. Sure my grandmother had all the ingredients: Fresh basil from the garden, good extra virgin olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano and pine nuts (a Sicilian favorite) from the groceria. But it just wasn't in the family tradition. Curious, I tried it in local restaurants and it was good, but I still did not understand why people raved about this "raw" sauce. However during my first trip to Italy I tried it and ever since I've been a huge pesto fan and brought my knowledge of it back home.