Here at EF, travel and delicious food go hand in hand—discovering unique local tastes and flavours is one of our favourite activities while travelling. In that spirit, EF’er Charlotte shares some tasty Italian treats that you can discover for yourself on an educational trip to Italy.
What’s the first thing you associate with Italy? Pasta? Pizza? The Pope?
Food is definitely at the top of my list! And it was also the main highlight of my trip to Italy last summer. I was particularly struck by how much more there is to discover to Italian cuisine besides just pasta and pizza. If you’re heading to Italy in the near future, be sure to keep an eye out for some of the delicacies listed below—they’re just a small collection of some of my favourite small bites and snacks, and they’ll definitely give you an authentic taste of Italy.
Italians weren’t the first to deep-fry seafood, and they certainly won’t be the last, but this dish may contain some of the tastiest. The best pesce fritto I sampled was in Amalfi, the picturesque capital of the world-renowned Amalfi Coast just south of Naples. But don’t fret if your Italian adventure doesn’t take you that far south—you’ll find vendors at most coastal Italian towns serving up heaps of fried octopus, calamari and fish in handy paper cones. It’s a great take-away to snack on while you enjoy exploring the Italian beach scene.
On to the next deep-fried treat! Arancine may be familiar to some as it’s already an Italian restaurant staple here in North America. Hailing from the southern region of Sicily, arancine are rice balls coated in breadcrumbs before getting the deep-fried treatment. While the types of flavours may vary, the most common are filled with meat, tomato sauce or cheese.
If there’s one thing that won’t be a waste of your time, it’s learning how to order gelato in Italian. North Americans might think they’ve eaten good ice cream before, but the Italian gelato experience is more than just good—it’s mouth-watering, heavenly and daydream-worthy. With too many flavours to count, the best way to narrow down your favourites is by making daily trips to the local gelateria. Specialties to try include pistacchio, bacio (hazelnut and chocolate), stracciatella (chocolate chip), cocco (coconut) and limone (lemon).
Porchetta is definitely not your average street meat. You likely won’t find this slow-roasted pork on a restaurant menu but that doesn’t mean Italy hasn’t given its stamp of approval to this deliciously salty and herb-stuffed pork: The Italian government officially named porchetta as a traditional dish with great cultural significance. Look for porchetta at markets and festivals where locals will carve off juicy slices of meat to enjoy on a slice of fresh bread or as the main event itself.
Meat on a stick is one of those food concepts that exist in almost every country, and Italy is certainly no exception. A popular regional variety from Abruzzo (just east of Rome) is arrosticini—a variety made of mutton cut into tiny squares and stacked onto long skinny skewers, before being seasoned simply with salt and pepper. The dish is so popular that natives of Abruzzo have even developed a grill that is specifically designed for cooking arrosticini. You won’t need to worry about cutlery though—it’s completely encouraged to eat these straight off the grill.
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