Italian Food History Facts

Italian Food History Facts

Italian cuisine is one of the most popular around the world. Everyone is familiar with classics such as bruschetta, foccaccia, panettone, cannelloni and of course pizza. But how much do you really know about the origins of these beloved foods?

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Italian food history dates back to the 4th century BC. Italian cuisine can be traced back to Etruscan and Greek cuisine as well as popular dishes from ancient Rome. These dishes evolved over time as new ingredients became available and as people developed a taste for new flavors. The birth of modern Italian cuisine dates back to the discovery of the Americas and to the introduction of new foods such as tomatoes, bell pepper or maize.
Italian cuisine is extremely simple. Did you know that very few dishes have more than eight ingredients? Italian food became popular over the world because the dishes are very easy to prepare and can be enjoyed by everyone. It is hard to establish a precise Italian food history since Italy is divided into several regions. Each region has its specialties and what we refer to as Italian food all over the world is often variations of these specialties.

One of the major ingredients of Italian cuisine, pasta, dates back to the 12th century.  A Norman king observed people preparing long strings with flour and water in Sicily. You can actually findan authentic recipe for macaroni in a book that dates back to the 15th century, The Art Of Cooking by Maestro Martino. His recipe for macaroni calls for wrapping dough around a thin rod and letting it dry in the sun before cooking it in capon stocks and adding saffron for flavor.

During the 16th century, the courts of Rome, Florence, Venice and Ferrara played an important part in the evolution of Italian cuisine. Banquets were commonplace and chefs had to constantly come up with new original recipes in order to impress guests. Foods from the New World slowly made their apparition in Italy and became more popular. Corn and turkey can be found in recipes from the 15th century and were quickly followed by tomatoes among other foods.


During the 18th century, Italian cookbooks focused on regional recipes. Most dishes include ingredients such as vegetables, pasta and gnocchi. The meats, seeds and spices vary from one region to another. There are many styles of Italian cuisine nowadays but Italian food is easily recognizable thanks to a few classic dishes and common ingredients. The recipes and style of Italian cuisine actually vary a lot over the world, depending on other local influences and on the preferences of the clients.

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Italian food history is fascinating. Foods we usually associate with Italian cuisine such as tomatoes were actually introduced late and the Italian dishes we are used to eating nowadays are actually quite different from authentic Italian food. You should take a look at some old Italian cooking books to get some original ideas or just to get a better idea of what Italian cuisine used to be like.

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2 Comments on “Italian Food History Facts
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