Distinctive Features of Italian Cooking
The term "Italian Food" is really a catch-all phrase used to describe the sum of many unique regional cuisines.
Across all regions, however, one key trait of Italian cooking is that it allows for experimentation and innovation. Using fresh ingredients in straightforward combinations, Italian food is characteristically unpretentious and practical. Italian meals are also social occasions. Food—throughout all the multiple courses traditional to an Italian meal—is meant to be shared.
Famous Chef: Mario Batali
Although he's successfully opened several restaurants in New York City, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, won prestigious awards, and appears regularly on the Food Network, there's nothing pretentious about Mario Batali. From his signature orange clogs to his cookbook, "Mario Tailgates NASCAR Style," Mario Batali—like the Italian cooking he's famous for—is nothing if not down to earth.
After studying the golden age of Spanish theater at Rutgers University, Batali enrolled briefly at Le Cordon Bleu in London before embarking on an apprenticeship with Chef Marco Pierre White, followed by three years of intensive training in Northern Italy.
Batali adds his signature of freshness and simplicity to his famous Italian cooking.
Italian food is known for its use of produce such as tomatoes, zucchini, olives, asparagus, eggplant, onions and garlic. Fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme, bay leaves and rosemary are also common. Pasta in many forms is a staple in the Italian diet. Various cheeses, including ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella, are also common in Italian food. Olive oil, butter and cream are prominently featured ingredients, as are many meats, including pork, veal and several varieties of seafood.