Extraordinary Ingredients & Italian Food

It's Not Just the Recipe That Makes a Great Italian Dish

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 the eater 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.

Ingredients! The Story Continues

My Italian neighbor Alcide cooks paste e fagioli from us and we learn that the famous beans of Bigliolo Alcide grows didn't work on our side of the road, but on the other, a few hundred meters north, they were delicious.

Pasta Fagioli with Alcide

How to Eat Well in Italy

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.

Sagra Posters: How to Read Them

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.

La Lunigiana Map and Guide

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.

How to Order Good Food in Italy

Some regions of Italy are very big on the antipasto course, which offers a great many tastes of local specialties.

Antipasti: Introduction to Italian Starters

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.

Moncigoli - Sagra di Cigola

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