Even more than the architecture or art, when people come back from a trip to Italy, the first thing they always bring up is the excellent food—and for good reason. Italian food is some of the best in the world, from sun-ripened tomatoes to fresh fish pulled straight from the Mediterranean. But the fare of Italy is more than just taste-bud deep; in the past few years, more and more people have turned to the Mediterranean diet for health benefits as well as for taste. Italian meals are usually very fresh, with the ingredients having been grown and harvested within Italy, so copying an Italian mode of eating tends to mean consuming seasonally (not to mention nutritiously).
That the occasional glass of red wine fights off cholesterol is common knowledge—but it turns out that Italian cuisine is replete with low-cholesterol or cholesterol fighting foods. According to The Mayo Clinic, a Mediterranean diet achieves this heart-healthy reputation by focusing on fresh plants, whole grains, and good fats like olive oil. These “good fats” actually help lower the presence of “bad fats” and plaque in the arteries. So foods that have been a part of Italian cuisine for centuries actually are a heart-healthy cornucopia. More olive oil on your salad sir? Yes please.
Have a look at Elizabeth Minchilli’s delicious recipe and instructional video for her fennel and orange salad. Oh Yum!
Italian food always embraces the natural flavor of the ingredients that comprise a dish, and usually do so with a minimum of salt. Herbs and spices are more the Italian way to enhance the taste of food—things like basil, mint, and rosemary are in the traditional cannon of Mediterranean cooking. This keeps the salt to a minimum, as well as sodium-content, but the taste to its fullest!
Time to get planting those herbs and spices!
Taste and Setting
There are as many claims that eating a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of depression and other mental health issues. While this delicious food does seem to have mystical powers, perhaps a lot of the happiness surrounding Italian cuisine can also beattributed to their philosophy surrounding cuisine. Food is to be enjoyed in Italy with the people you love. Tastes and dinners are savored, often being stretched out for hours. It’s hard not to get a little extra happiness when living and eating are looked at this way. Plus, the food is just so tasty.
If you’re interested in learning more about the foods of Italy (and Rome in particular) try our Travestere Food Tour —we hit up the culinary hotspots of one of Rome’s chicest neighbourhoods.