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Post-Harvest: Italian Preservation Methods

Now that we’re nearing the end of October, harvest time has ended and traditionally, this is when people begin preserving foods. A lot of Italian culinary traditions and favorite foods come from historical methods of preservation, from cheeses to dry-cured meats to wine. Preserving foods ensure that the bountiful harvest does not go to waste. At the same time, the …

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The Perfect Risotto

If you’ve watched reality TV cooking competitions, from Top Chef to Hell’s Kitchen, then award-winning chef Gordon Ramsay has made it very clear how difficult it is to cook the perfect risotto. From texture to seasoning, it seems like the test of a true chef. Outside the kitchen, risotto has popped up recently in an email from Clinton campaign manager, …

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A Brief History of Italian Cuisine in America

Would it surprise you to know that at one point in the 20th century, going to an Italian restaurant in a city’s “Little Italy” was a special excursion? According to John F. Mariani, Esquire’s food and travel correspondent, “Going to Little Italy became a city diversion, like going to Chinatown. Visitors accustomed to American apple pie, German strudel, and Jewish …

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Meat & Wine: a Classic Combination

When we think of Italian meats and wines, we usually think of the classic dry-cured items, such as prosciutto or mortadella or salami, served with a fine glass of wine. But did you know that Italian cuisine showcases many other kinds of meats and wines cooked together? The dry-cured items and chilled wines are popular during summer time, when they …

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Italian Culinary Traditions at Harvest Time

For much of human history, the practice of domesticating and growing plants has been a crucial part of survival. Around the world, there are many harvest time traditions. In Italy, the harvest is an important time of the year: the literal fruits of labor are ready for the picking – then prepared and stored for the winter ahead. As we …

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Get the Gnocchi!

Gnocchi is one of the most comforting of Italian comfort foods – but it is also not a well-known or popular item! And then there’s that name – how do say it? Gnocchi, pronounced “nyaw-kee” or “nyo-kee,” has unknown origins, though many believe it comes from Northern Italy, where the climate is much colder. Gnocchi is most often prepared as …

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Ferragosto: An Italian Summer Tradition

On August 15, Italians celebrated the holiday Ferragosto, which coincides with the Catholic feast, the Assumption of Mary. At the same time, Italians traditionally take a long vacation during mid-August, which is also known as Ferragosto. It may be a long weekend holiday, or a month long vacation. The Assumption of Mary Feast is a celebration of the day Catholics …

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More On Italian Cheeses

Is there such a thing as too much cheese? We’ve briefly overviewed Italian cheeses before, but surely no one would complain about a little bit extra cheese. At Cucina Toscana, Italian cheeses are found in many different dishes. Cheeses, historically, begin and end a meal. Today, we’ll explore the different cheeses (their flavors, the processes which create them, and so …

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The Importance of Fermentation in Italian Cuisine

The Importance of Fermentation in Italian Cuisine   What is Fermentation? When you first hear “fermentation” it might not sound like the most appetizing thing. But with a recent rise in specialized food cultures, Americans are learning more about the fermentation process and the benefits it brings. In Cooked, a documentary on cuisine by food writer Michael Pollan, it is …

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The Cultural Influences on Italian Cuisine

The Cultural Influences on Italian Cuisine Italian cuisine is distinct and renowned, tracing back thousands of years. As with all great cuisines of the world, Italian cuisine is a composite of influences from many different cultures over a large expanse of time. Today, we explore the cultural influences on Italian cuisine – from antiquity to present day.   The Beginnings …