By Vicki Martinez
For centuries people around the world have found inspiration in the kitchen from the cooking techniques and bold tastes of Italy. No matter if it’s modern cuisine or rustic comfort food, the robust flavors, mouth-watering aromas and fresh ingredients combine to create part of the Italian experience. But, there’s more…
There’s no doubt a well-rounded pasta dish needs fresh ingredients and high-quality pasta. Yet some basic components that define the essence of Italian cooking aren’t ingredients at all. They’re an attitude, a lifestyle steeped in tradition. If you’d like to add a new level of enjoyment to a dish, add three “special ingredients” from the Italian lifestyle to your next meal: community, a healthy diet and a laid-back attitude.
Italians are taught at a young age to have a strong sense of place and deep pride in their history. For this reason, relationships with family and friends are highly valued. And what better place to share stories and socialize together than around the dinner table? It’s no surprise that a community- and family-oriented culture is the godfather of family-style meals (some of the earliest records of shared meals date back to the ancient Romans).
Embrace Healthy Eating
Fresh and colorful produce, fragrant herbs and organic proteins, plus quality olive oil and red wine, are staples for an authentic Italian meal. It’s one of the reasons the Mediterranean-style diet—named for eating habits of those living near the Mediterranean Sea—is considered one of the healthiest diets around. Used as a source of nutrients and an essential carbohydrate for energy production, pasta is also a staple in the Mediterranean diet. Pasta, cooked the traditional Italian way, has another, lesser-known, health benefit: the body digests slightly undercooked, or al dente, pasta much slower, which helps stabilize the glycemic index.
Embrace the Moment
When’s the last time you took a three-hour lunch? Probably never, right? Yet in Italy, it’s common practice. However, the point is not to avoid going back to the office but to consciously try to slow down life’s hectic pace. For Italians, lunch is the most important meal of the day, so they not only require time to prepare a hearty meal, they also need time to eat slowly to enjoy every delicious bite.
Embrace the Italian lifestyle, enjoy the flavors of Italy and Vivi La Bella Vita! (Live the good life!)