Why do people like "Italian food" so much? The dishes are simple, accessible, and cleverly conceived. But there's prime bit of the philosophy of this cuisine missing from this description.
Simple dishes that delight rely on great ingredients. Rural Italy is pocked with tiny places where things love to grow. This video will introduce you to two extraordinary ingredients that play a minor role in American cooking but can star in an Italian dish: onions and beans. But these aren't your mass produced onions and beans, they live in special places and are celebrated for their rich, complex flavors.
The best of local foods can often be found at a sagra, which is a celebration of the local food traditions. These are announced through the advertising medium of the garishly colored sagra poster, as you saw in the video. A more detailed account of sagra posters is available by clicking the button below.
Historic territories like northern Tuscany's La Lunigiana provide many opportunities to taste locally produced foods. See a guide to the Lunigniana by using the button below.
Believe it or not there's a trick to getting the best food available at a restaurant in Italy. Push your desire for a particular dish to the background and speak to the waiter about your desire to partake of the regional specialties that the chef likes to cook. The strategy also works in France and other European countries.
Some regions of Italy are very big on the antipasto course, which offers a great many tastes of local specialties.
There's another little part of the Lunigiana that also has fine onions around the little village of Moncigoli. Go to the Sagra di Cigola and you'll see people with bundles of them eating them raw one by one.