A man makes the national sweet — cubbaita of pistachios. Italy, Sicily, Bronte. Photo credit: Egor Myznik of Unsplash

Italians eat with the change of seasons. Try out these classic delicacies for the fall

In addition to the harvest seasons, Italian cuisine is influenced by unique traditions.

Italy is an all-year-round tourist destination, but Italians eat with the seasonal changes. Perhaps their nature-based consumption habits, and the long walks after meals is central to so many centenarians living in the southern European destination. Besides the museums and historical buildings, there is an array of restaurants along the via, Italian for street, that satiate the most intense foodies.

Irrefutably, food remains one of the most applaudable aspects of any travel experience. “I have to eat Salsiccia whenever I travel to Italy; in comparison to Switzerland, the weather in Italy is amazing,” Carolina tells Ark Republic. 

Indisputable, the culinary traditions in Italy go beyond the food. Everything, from cooking skills to dining, is delicately woven to create art. Whether it’s the personalized, home-like trattorias or the luxurious establishments with a long wine list, Italian cuisine never fails to enchant. In this piece, traverse the Italian terrain with Ark Republic to discover the classic delicacies of Italian cuisine during the fall season.

Ravioli two ways. Photo credit: Valentina Perez on Unsplash

Ravioli

It wouldn’t be an Italian kitchen without pasta, would it? Ravioli is an old traditional Italian dish made up of thin pasta in a variety of shapes filled inside with condiments of choice. Home-made pasta is conventionally made by combining flour and water to make the dough, a lengthy process that takes several hours. Condiments vary according to consumer preference. To bolster the flavor, you can also add herbs, or even greens such as spinach or seafood. 

“The food in Ukraine is good, but I like pasta with shrimp,” Olya admits. “I haven’t tried a lot of foods, but the Italian pasta was the best I have ever had.”

Quite common in Italian pasta is minced meat. Ultimately, cheese is standard for most Italian dishes, but ricotta is preferred for ravioli. 

Even though it needs time to prepare, the supermarket shelves line up a batch of ready-made choices that require ten minutes of preparation. Some of the best pasta to get is at a farmers market where pasta is made fresh and by hand. Plus, you’ll get customized service where the vendor provides options such as different sauces, on how to amplify your meal.

Italian porchetta or well-seasoned, rolled pork, is a traditional Italian festive food.

Porchetta

It is impossible to explore Italian markets and miss out on the legendary porchetta. Although found throughout Italy, its origins date back to the central region of Umbria. 

Traditional porchetta constitutes a pig that is 9-to-12 months old. Though there are different methods of cooking, some may take up to seven hours. The pig is massaged with aromatic herbs and olive oil for the most delicious outcome.

Normally, a plate constitutes salad, potatoes, or both. All the same, it is also a type of street food cut into lean slices to make readily affordable bread sandwiches.

Agnello al Forno

Barbeques are a great deal for the summer, nonetheless, ribs can still be a delightful choice for fall. Italian, oven-baked lamb chops can never go wrong. What is the difference with normal lamb chops, one may ask? Italian meat has an extra charm to it. Trust me, one walk in that direction and there is no going back. 

Ingredients such as garlic and onions are combined with the lamb chops and baked in the oven. One of the secret recipes camouflages behind the aromatic herbs during marination. Similar to other Italian dishes, a toss of extra virgin oil is essential. An additional spring of fresh rosemary adds an extra kick of flavor and aroma.

Pasta with pumpkin and arugula.

Pasta con la Zucca (Pasta with pumpkins)

Pumpkins are a typical fall meal. Important to realize, the pumpkin harvest season begins around October. Whilst some chose to style up the pumpkin for the Halloween festival, others prepare various types of dishes ranging from cakes to soup for its sweet and savory taste. 

Pumpkins create a creamy soup, and is turned into a phenomenal dish if paired with pasta; ultimately it turned into a perfect lunch combo. A savory delight included in this meal is ricotta cheese with small cubes of bacon referred to as pancetta. During preparation, a blend of cooked pumpkin with ricotta creates a porridge-like broth. Summarily, the chef stirs the boiled pasta and the broth to set up a luscious meal.

Risotto

The Mediterranean climate enables the growth of the short-grain rice referred to as risotto, popular in North Italy. In contrast to the standard rice, risotto has an almost semi-round shape. It cooks slowly and requires constant stirring to form small balls of rice floating in a thick cream.

Just as pasta, it is versatile. One can serve it plain or incorporate various ingredients accompanied by beautifully charred meat or vegetables. When it comes to risotto, the Parmigiano Reggiano is advised nonetheless, other types of cheese are equally yummy as well. In whole, risotto is not for everybody, but it is worth a try.

White grapes in a yellow crate during grape harvest in a vineyard in Puglia, Italy. Photo credit: Gabriella Clare Marino on Unsplash

Grapes

According to ancient Greek mythology, Dionysus was the Olympian god of the grape harvest, winemaking, and theater. Hence, grapes are a widespread fruit in Europe, thus extensively associated with various culinary traditions. 

Even with the high sugar levels, they are well known for their vitamins, antioxidants and high water levels to keep the skin supple. Not only do they manufacture wine, but grapes have a wide variety of health benefits. Furthermore, they serve as a great dessert. Look out for the grapes to prevent cancer and heart diseases

Zeppole

For foodies with a sweet tooth, Zeppole is the dessert for you. The fried flour balls are eminently sweet. Chef Fabio gives away the secret to great meals saying, “some choose to do it differently, but it is tradition and attention to detail that makes zeppole and many other foods extraordinary.” Even though he refuses to expose the secrets in his cook book he adds that, “the dough needs at least one week in a cool place before frying.”  

Just like pancakes, the flour is mixed with water, salt and sugar with a sprinkle of yeast. The dough is then ball-shaped and tossed into hot vegetable oil. Ultimately, powdered sugar is sprinkled, otherwise, honey is an equally great alternative. Important to note, Zeppoles mark the religious feast of San Martino on November 11.

Vin Brule is a popular mulled wine during the colder months in Europe. This Hot mulled wine with orange slices, anise and cinnamon sticks.

Vin Brulè

Wine is a paramount part of any Italian dining. Vin Brulè, the literal meaning of burnt wine, is a hot beverage spiced and flavored with a strong bouquet with origins from ancient Rome. It is a typical gift for the Christmas festivities and a great way to warm up with a drink on hand. The main ingredient is red wine, on the other hand, aromatic herbs are predominant for the aromatic flavor. By choice, an addition of brandy hits hard and there is nothing more wholesome for the holidays.

Cubbaita

In Italy, pistachios are everywhere. In the bread, a popular gelato selection, and definitely throughout the Sicily region. So much so, cubbaita is a typical dessert with roots in the Mediterranean and Arabic culinary influences throughout the country, but most prominent in Sicily. The name comes from the Arabic word “quibbiat” which means “with almonds.” More like a chewy bar or toffee, the main ingredients for cubbaita are sugar and honey with sesame seeds and almonds. However, in Sicily, the selection often comes with pistachios.

I can explore more by talking about porcini mushrooms, castagne (chestnuts) and lenticchie (lentils), but with food in Italy, the list is never ending. On the positive, there is much more to cook with the already mentioned ingredients.

Nyawira Mithayo is a Journalism graduate with an interest in community activism.

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