There’s a famous Italian proverb that says, “Mangiare per vivere e non vivere per mangiare”. Capturing the true essence of Italians and their love for food, the proverb states that One must Live to Eat and not Eat to Live”… Italians are true connoisseurs of food with their immense love for their food traditions and nutritious combination of staples, vegetables and herbs that are essential for a balanced diet.
Italian cuisine has seen a major surge in its demand over the past decade and the rise of pasta and pizza in our country can easily demonstrate how much Italian food is now loved. From small kids to elderly, birthday party to kitty party; pizza is the first choice of most guests. Indians today are far more aware and are more exposed to international trends in food, thanks to the television channels, social media and avid food bloggers. With the Italian cuisine’s popularity on a constant rise, it has become a common practice in restaurants to add a section for Italian food on their menu cards.
One of the most important things that Italian food has is its ability of versatility. Whether it’s an occasion or romantic date, Italian cuisine can find its way to the tables. The cuisine is now providing something unique to the guests and the increase in tourism is contributing to the proliferation of these dishes in Multi cuisine restaurants.
Italian food has been a global success, also due to its informal, relaxed style. Italian restaurants are almost the only type of western cuisine place likely to succeed, and they are being opened in many formats from open kitchens in restaurants to malls leading upto speciality restaurants in plush star rated hotels.
When Experimentation is the Key
Indians are broadening their horizons when it comes to experimentation with food. However, the love for Italian food can be attributed to the fact that it has some distinct similarities with our own palate in terms of food choices, offerings, key ingredients and the origin of dishes. Similar to India, Italian cuisine is known for its regional specialities, with the variation of food preferences as you travel from North to South (More polenta and rice with butter in North to Seafood with Olive Oil in South). Another similarity is the ‘ingredient focused’ cooking in both Italian and Indian cuisines. Eg: Italian cuisine uses simple cooking techniques to highlight fresh, seasonal flavours whereas Indian dishesfocus on one or two main vegetables. It’s an interesting observation to note that when we take a closer look at our menus, one can notice that the same seasoning and cooking technique is applied with the only variation being the featured ingredient.
It all finally comes down to food traditions and yet again, a common factor that binds the Food Story for both these countries together is the fact that the kitchen is central to the hearts and minds of Italian families, pretty much like Indians.. When we talk about authentic dining experience in India, we all head back to our Dadi’s and Nani’s for that true taste of indulgence. Italians always fall back on their Nonn’a for cooking methods for the perfect flavoursome dishes. The art of cooking in both our culture is essentially hand me down recipes from our ancestors or the Head Chefs of our household.