Sitting at table together is still a near-sacred ritual that turns a house into a home and can even save a marriage or two!
Meals are the family’s daily arena and good food, good wine are not luxuries but staples. They can be ancient traditions, passed on through the generations; memories of a beloved grandmother or a happy childhood; local recipes and varietals that give one particular community a sense of belonging; a series of courses, antipasto, primo, secondo, dolce, as structured and timeless as once upon a time to happy ever after. If ever Italian politics were as structured and self-disciplined as the Italian meal, Italy would become an ideal nation. But then, would it be half so much fun?
Italy is quite a small country: just 116,346 square miles, approximately the size of Arizona. Unlike the near-rectangular Grand Canyon State, however, its shape is long and narrow – famously like a boot. Crammed into this long, narrow boot you find an amazing number of different customs, climates, geographies, identities, regions and regional cuisines; more than could find their way into Mary Poppins’ bag… In fact, greater variety than in mostmuch, much larger countries.
Italian cooking is therefore extremely vast and diverse. Pizza, pasta & ice cream are just the tip of an iceberg firmly based on a myriad local traditions and fresh local produce.
Every Italian region, every individual area and subzone has its own, distinctive cuisine or cucina (the word is the same as “kitchen” – no coincidence, if you think the kitchen is the heart of the Italian household), conditioned by geography and climate, lifestyle and history (including the influence of foreign populations that settled or ruled in a given area in the past), altitude and proximity to the sea. There are a few broader distinctions, such as what Italians call “la linea del burro”, the “butter border”. This gastronomic borderline runs roughly through Bologna: north of this city, colder climates and a preference for butter; south of it, warmer climes and olive oil, which literally comes with the territory. In other words, it is mostly south of Bologna temperatures and terrain are favorable to olive growing, while north of Bologna, butter keeps better – especially if you think of centuries past, when refrigerators did not exist. Conversely, olive oil is not only a condiment but central and southern Italy’s preservative per eccellenza, together with salt from the Mediterranean and Mediterranean sunshine (which desiccates and therefore impedes unwanted fermentation).
Pairing Wines & Food
The purpose of matching food and wine is to evoke harmonic taste sensations. Wine and food should magnify each other and must be the one in the service of the other. Unlike for example tasting techniques, in the field of food and wine combinations it is appropriate to speak of directions more than rules. The choice of wine to pair the food involve several factors; first among them the subjective taste but we must not forget also the temperature of the food, the raw materials of the food, condiments, the hand of the chef, the wine itself (producer, vintage, etc …) … all of which is impossible to reproduce in time. Our goal is to give some simple advice to not choose a wrong wine or who just goes to the dishes ordered.