Appreciated flavours in the whole world
One of the most important parameter to award “marchio Q” restaurants abroad, is their ability to utilise and promote the best Italian raw materials
Italy is a country full of traditional food connected to its territory affected by its climate, story and the human’s manual ability. An example of what has been just said it is represented by the making of “Parmigiano Reggiano”, through techniques which date back to the mediaeval era and that have been handed down from generations to generations. In the same way, Genoese basil has been cultivated through the centuries depending on favorable climate conditions of the Genoese west. Likewise, the aging of “Prosciutto di Parma” is strictly connected to the territory and the “Marino” wind, which blows from Liguria region to that area and that gives the right salty flavour to this type of ham.
Nowadays, typical products are identified by “Denominazione di Origine Protetta (DOP)” and “Indicazione Geografica Protetta (IGP)” brands. Centennial farming and handcrafted production techniques connect DOP and IGP products to the territory, which were born with different techniques compared to the industrial ones. E.g., the use of the machine for pressing allows the making of fine extra-virgin oils in the past and it does so today. Food’s regional culture represents an important means of grouping together the local community, which often celebrates the unique history of the product in festivals and parties.
The connection between Italian territory and gastronomic tradition is particular appreciated in the rest of the world: “marchio Q” restaurants know how to combine Italian’s typical products with an expert manual skill, doing justice to the Italian uniqueness abroad.
Cheese is the Italian territorial product par excellence: each city and region has its own cheese, made through traditional techniques known by in the specific area and handed down from generations to generations only.
Unique climate and environmental conditions have favoured the development of specific techniques: e.g., north Italian mountainous areas have given birth to cheeses which could remain edible in the long term, when preserved in natural fresh environments.
The big agricultural area in the Pianura Padana helped the production of long aging cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano. Central Italian regions, instead, are historically more suitable for sheep breeding, and so this area is famous for the production of different types of Pecorino cheese.
The south of Italy has elaborated on the spun paste’s culture and so, scamorza, provolone cheese and mozzarella are the most common type of chees in this area.
Mozzarella, is one of the most appreciated cheeses abroad, both individually and in typical recipes of the Italian gastronomic culture. Particularly, Campania buffalo mozzarella is one of the central products used in the Mediterranean diet and it is subject to the DOP regulation, which guarantees the originality of the product to consumers.
Compared to other types of cheeses, buffalo mozzarella has a rather low sodium consumption, while it is abundant of lactose and cholesterol, becoming so a perfect source of proteins with a moderate fats consumption.
Thanks to its popularity abroad, its export represents 25% of the certified production of buffalo mozzarella, which in 2015 exceeded 41 million Kg. France, Germany and the US have the highest number of consumption of buffalo mozzarella. The merit is given to its taste and versatility: most of the time it is eaten fresh, but it is possible to use it in different traditional recipes. The most important thing is that it has to be adequately preserved and consumed as soon as possible.
Buffalo mozzarella is not the only popular DOP Italian dairy product abroad: the export of Parmigiano Reggiano, for instance, reached 35% of the total production in 2015. Its long aging makes this type of cheese a food easy to digest, suitable for an international consumption and capable of valorising every type of recipe. A wheel of buffalo mozzarella is made up of 70% of nutritive elements, which are fundamental for the health of children, adults and elderly men.
Among the flavours most appreciated in the whole world, the olive’s oil is the protagonist of the Mediterranean diet, nowadays acknowledged and promoted as a human heritage.
Being a symbol of the Italian gastronomic culture, tasty and abundant of healthy virtues, the olive’s oil represents a fundamental ingredient for the good cuisine and the good food. The olive’s oil is the only oil obtained from the squeezing out of a fruit, becoming a real juice. Each of the 1.600 varieties of olives which exist in the world has its own aroma, but almost all of them have positive nutritional features to our wellness.
Some research has identified different healthy properties to our organism, among which:
• Improvement of our metabolism thanks to the oleic acid
• Vitamin E, D, K and pro-vitamin A
• Prevention of tumors, arteriosclerosis and hypertension
• Skin’s care
Oil can be used in plenty of preparations and dishes, both raw, intensifying and completing recipes, and cooked, facilitating the assimilation of wealthy substances included into it. The high number of varieties of olives give birth to a number of different oils just as many, which generally can be divided in 3 categories: light fruity, middle fruity and intense fruity.
The match of the oil with the dish, generally, depends on the personal taste. Nevertheless, there are some fundamental rules to keep in mind for an aware and right consumption of the olive’s oil. The colour of the oil does not give any information concerning its quality, while a bitter and spicy flavour, in particular in the extra-virgin oils, is synonym of benefits for the wellness. Moreover, a correct preservation avoids losses of quality: olive’s oil is delicate when it comes to light, so it is recommended the usage of dark bottles which have to be kept in an environment between 14 and 21 degrees, and once opened, it is advisable their consumption within a month.
To prove the existence of a strong connection between the olive’s oil and the territory, extra-virgin oils represents the 4th products in the UE rankings regarding the recognition of the DOP-IGP products per sector. The geographical environment that makes unique each oil, comprehends both natural and human factors (production’s techniques) and for this reason it is not reproducible. Almost 40% of European DOP oils is represented by Italian oils: the number of registered products is 43, especially from Sicily, Puglia, Campania and Tuscany.
Wine, which combines dishes of the Italian tradition, intensifies and enhances the quality, the taste and the flavours of the peninsula’s cuisine.
The history of wine is ancient and strictly connected to its territory where is produced, as it happens to other Italian products. Nowadays, Italy is the biggest global producer of wine and one of the greatest consumers of it, by virtue of this linkage between good food and good wine.
Wine’s production is spread in each region of Italy, making a total of 300 acknowledged and vinified native vine varieties. These vine varieties can produce hundreds of different wines, distinguishable for colour (white, red, rosé), origin, type (still, sparkly, spumante, passito, dessert wine and young), wine varietal and methodology of production (conventional, biologic, biodynamic, natural and vegan). In Italy, the production and the classification of wines is subordinate to both European and Italian regulation, with the ultimate goal of protecting the qualitative features of the product. This happens both for the methodology of production (which has to be certified) and for the territorial origin (IGP and DOP). In particular, Italy is collocated at the first place for number of EU acknowledgement, with around 500 DOP and IGP wines.
Matching wisely the right wine to the dish make you taste them both completely. Considered the existing number of wine’s varieties, it is difficult to spot a fixed method. Nevertheless, some general rules exist which guarantee the mutual fervour of the flavours between dish and wine. Some of these depend on tradition: a dish of a specific geographical area can be matched with a wine of the same area, with the goal of recreating the flavours. Alternatively, it is possible to take the season in consideration, choosing fresh wines in summer and organic and full-bodied wines in winter.
In any event, in most cases it is based on flavours: the choice has to be taken either for contrast or for analogy, avoiding the overlapping of tastes. Wine represents an historic feature of the Mediterranean diet and it shares with it some of the wealthy properties, when it is taken in moderation and not with empty stomach. In particular, red wine would have protective effects against stress, benefits on humour and memory, along with the speeding up the metabolism. White wine, instead, has recently been subject of studies which showed that the caffeic acid present inside it, contributes to the protection of heart and kidneys.
Modena’s Balsamic vinegar is one of the ambassadors of the Italian gastronomic tradition and nowadays it is known and exported in around 120 countries.
It is a particular condiment with an acetic base produced from vine varieties cultivated in Modena’s province with ancient procedures and handed down orally from generation to generation.
It is possible to distinguish two main types of this product: Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena (Modena’s Traditional Balsamic Vinegar) (ABTM) and Aceto Balsamico di Modena (Modena’s Balsamic Vinegar) (ABM), which avail themselves of DOP and IGP certifications. Certifications allow the products to keep bequeathing their secrets without being modified, giving to the consumers the guarantee to taste an unique product. The difference between the twos, mainly consists in the duration of the ageing and in the absence of aromatic elements. Besides these European certifications, the marketing promotion of the balsamic vinegar is judged by a commission of expert tasters, who value its visual, olfactory and gustatory standards.
Despite its ancient history, which dates back to the Mediaeval Modena, balsamic vinegar has been adapted to the modern cuisine: sure enough, it is an extremely adaptable product, capable of matching both refined and simple recipes. It can be tasted with a spoon, on a piece of Parmigiano Reggiano, as a seasoning in the salad or with fruit. In any event, it is common to add it at the end of the preparation of the dish, in order not to alter its features given by its intense flavour.
By its nature, l’aceto balsamico di Modena (ABTM) DOP is less suitable toward the industrial production compared to the IGP product. Given the difference regarding the duration of the ageing and the purity of the musts, it is possible to find the former in few thousands of barrel in the attics of the Modena’s province, while the latter has a certified production of over 90 million litres per year, with a sales volume of 700 millions of euro.
In the collective consciousness, pasta is the element that represents Italy the most.
Despite the regional and handcrafted variations, the history of pasta coincides with that one of the Peninsula: an element of unity shared through all the Country, its origins date back to the tradition of the wheat’s cultivation in the roman era.
Although its production is spread in the whole Peninsula, its regional and handcrafted variations are characterised by different productive techniques, shape and condiment. In particular, it can be distinguished between dry pasta, which represents three quarters of the total consumption, and fresh pasta: the former is traditionally made through maze’s grinding, which mostly grows in the south of Italy; while the latter is produced with soft wheat flour, originally from Pianura Padana. The environment and the climate of the two territories explains the difference in the consumption of dried past in the South and fresh past in the North.
Besides the type of wheat utilised, the typologies of pasta can be different depending on the usage of eggs in the dough, the presence of filling or the shape. Concerning the latter, it can present a different condiment, both for historic association, and for a certain type of preparation, and so for its compactness and its capacity to hold condiments back. In particular, some variations of pasta have recently obtained the IGP denomination, which protects its quality and its reputation both in Italy and abroad: Gragnano pasta and Campofilone’s Maccheroncini.
In the last few years, the global consumption of pasta reached 14,5 millions of tones and Italy is the biggest consumer and producer of it. Despite pasta has reached such a diffusion in the world, its production it is not necessarily intensive; rather, being easily transportable and capable of resisting to different temperatures, it is a sustainable product and almost lacking of wastefulness.
In the Mediterranean diet, pasta id the element that provides energy, covering 55% of the daily energetic needs. Besides, it has a low glycemic index, which contributes to check the weight and keep our body active and wealthy.
Mediterranean diet is unique in its category thanks to the quality and the nutritive properties that compose it.
More than a half of the total calorie consumption of this diet is due to cereals, pasta and bread. The usage of these elements by the Mediterranean population has been documented for ages, as that one of olive’s oil and wine, compared to other elements, which have been recently introduced in this diet.
Wheat is the most consumed cereal among Europeans, about which generally is it is used the inner part of the grains only, which does not maintain all the nutritive properties of the whole grain. For this reason, generally it is recommended to consume whole cereals and other elements containing it. Whole cereals are commonly included in our diet through flakes, rice, spelt, barley, pasta, cereal for breakfast, oatmeal, biscuits, crackers and especially bread.
Bread is generally obtained through the cooking of flour, water, yeast and sault, and, together with pasta it is one of the most important energy source in the Mediterranean diet. Bread is a product full of complex carbohydrates and proteins, and as for non-processed cereals, its wealthy effects are more efficient if it is integral, given that the amount of fibres and other beneficial elements for the wealth decreases during the process of refining for the production of white flour.
Thanks to the ease for its preparation at a domestic level, bread constitutes a typical regional product in Italy, since each area produces a different type of it which differentiate in shape and dough.
Some examples are Sardinian bread Carasau, crunchy and thin; Coppia Ferrarese, a re-twisted bread with a shape similar to a croissant; Altamura’s bread, baked in ovens fueled with oak wood; and Genzano’s bread. In particular, the lasts variations have received the IGP certification, highlighting the specificity of the area of production.