Surprise! I’m back from a surprise weekend break in Lampedusa!
I didn’t know much about this little island, but I quickly found out … Lampedusa the land of sea, sun and good food!
Lampedusa is the largest island of the Italian Pelagie Islands. With a surface area of 20.2 square kilometres, it is the southern-most island of the Republic of Italy; closer to Tunisia than it is to Sicily, even though it forms part of the Sicilian Province of Agrigento. Lampedusa is referred to as the Tropics of the Mediterranean.
A must destination if you love the sun, sea and good food. And that’s what I’m going to talk about, today … good food … Italian food!
What makes Italian food so unique?
The Italians are renowned for their mercato – food market. They are known to go to the markets first thing in the morning and buy the freshest produce they find. They will choose seasonal, local produce over fruit, veg and fish which are “force produced”. This is a cardinal secret behind Italian cuisine.
The second secret is keeping food simple. Most Italian dishes consist of fresh food which is cooked in the simplest way possible.
Up to this very day, a lot of Italian households still prepare their own homemade pasta. In Italian households and restaurants sauces are made from scratch; they do not come in jars. They like their ragù made with fresh tomatoes, but more often than not, most dishes come with a simple drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some balsamico. Gravy has no space in Italian cuisine. When food is nice and fresh, you don’t want gravies and sauces masking the taste.
The Italians also respect tradition. They do not forsake quality for quantity. A perfect example would be the famous Parmigiano Reggiano. The slow process behind making this renowned cheese has come down over the centuries through generations. It takes time to produce cause it needs to mature for months, but Italians will not choose to speed up the process. They know that people from all over the world are prepared to pay the right price for a matured piece of Parmigiano.
Last but not least, the Italians have flair when it comes to food. They are known to be capable of whipping up a healthy meal with the most basic of ingredients.
For Italians, cooking is an art full of amor propio – true love – which has come down through the generations. The food cooked in Italian households is same food you find in restaurants, with very little or no tweaks at all.
What makes Italian food healthy?
By and large, most Mediterranean food is healthy, but I guess the Italians’ way of life adds to the benefits of their cuisine.
In Italy people take their time to eat. Dining with friends and family is an experience which cannot be rushed. Most restaurants do not take “second sittings”, as has become customary in most of Europe, including Malta. You are allowed to enjoy and savour your food; fresh, wholesome food served in sensible portions.
The Italians eat to live not live to eat.
Chef Gennaro Contaldo is one of the brains behind the chain Jamie’s Italians. Here are some of his recipes for you to try. Go for it and let me know how you get on.
My thanks go to
The Ultimate Guide to the Mediterranean Diet
Dr Hyman – The Secret Way Italians Stay Healthy and Thin
and to Vimeo.com