The essence of Italian cuisine is its simplicity.
Although, it evolved through centuries of political and social changes, with roots dating back to the 4th century BC. Italian cuisine itself was influenced by the cuisine of ancient Greece, ancient Rome, Byzantine, Jewish and Arabic; Italian cuisine maintained its simplicity thru the centuries, always relaying on a few fresh ingredients. And rather basic ones too.
The most important changes occurred with the discovery of “America” and the introduction of new ingredients such as potatoes 🥔, tomatoes 🍅, peppers, and corn 🌽.
I’m quite sure that back in 1492, in Naples they were already anxiously waiting for the return of Christopher (Columbus) with those tomatoes for their pizzas and spaghetti! … while in the North they welcomed the corn for the polenta that saved many people from starving.
Italian chefs rely on the quality of the ingredients rather than on the complexity of preparation.
Traditional dishes and recipes, over the centuries, have often been created by grandmothers rather than chefs, which is why many Italian recipes are suitable for home and daily cooking, respecting the territorial specificities, privileging only raw materials and ingredients.
A tomato is the king of summer; and when it is fresh & fragrant–like now for example–all alone it can dress a dish of pasta beautifully! Just like that.
Take a tomato (or more if there are a lot of hungry people around the table), peel it by putting into a pot of boiling water for a minute, then peel, and slice it in tiny little pieces; put it in a serving bowl, add basil–that never fails—Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I love my EVO to be very fruity), and let it stay there for a while. I do this in the morning!
Then at lunchtime I cook my pasta, and in this case my favorite is the hand-made tagliatelle, or better yet the tagliolini. Once cooked–for fresh pasta in 2-3 minutes it is done–I put everything in my bowl, I stir well and serve.
It can’t be any easier than that on a hot summer day.
2 thoughts on “Take a Tomato…”
I happened upon your post randomly while searching about links between Jewish and italian cuisine. I live in the DC area where I guess you are from & I long to go to Italy where a good friend lives. I just want to say I really like your pictures of food – they are beautiful & charming and very tasty looking! I wish I could be there in Italy and not essentially quarantined here. May this pandemic be over soon!
Hi there. I was in DC, but I live in Italy now.
Thank you for your kind words, we are going thru some though time this year again. Hopefully it will be over soon. We miss the tourists badly now, and not just for economic reasons, but because we were so used to have people roaming our towns and admiring our treasures. The beauty of Italy should be shared with the world!
Hopefully everything will go back to normal soon.