Italian food is really a celebration of produce and a typical Italian meal will start with a big plate of antipasti, which are predominantly vegetables (pepperoncini, mushrooms and artichoke hearts) and a selection of cured meats (like prosciutto and salami). Then it moves on to a small pasta dish, which is followed by a light meat dish perhaps beef, pork or a leg of lamb, simply but deliciously prepared.
From that initial crescendo to the last savored bite, every authentic Italian dish is built upon the most basic yet most flavorful ingredients. “Traditional products are very important in the flavors of Italy, which, at their best, are based on seasonality and locality. Olive oil is the cornerstone of most Italian cooking (to braise, fry, and drizzle), then come the vegetables. Garlic, onion and intense green vegetables are often stars on the plate. Balsamic vinegar always claims a prime spot in an Italian kitchen and you would be hard-pressed to find a cook without a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese within arm’s reach.