|Regional gastronomical obsessions!|
Article by Deepanjali B Sarkar
Pasta 'n coffee mania!
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Getting wiser on Italy's favourite food!
While traveling you'll have noticed how different nationalities have their own peculiar obsessions with a particular kind of food/drink. It's wine in France, tea in China (as they say, in China, when you see someone on the street, before you even say 'hello,' you say 'have you had tea yet?'!), and fish and chips in Britain. We found a lot of people visiting Italy this summer and thought we would have a little piece on Italy's favourite gastronomical obsession - pasta!
'Mangiare bene' (eating well) is a national preoccupation in Italy, and unites people of all age, all regions and either gender. In fact, Italy is one of the rare countries in which talking about food and its preparation does not make a man less macho (though here, as everywhere else in the world, the best cooking is nearly always Mother's!). Each person you'll meet will have his own decided views on how a dish should taste, if some ingredient is missing, or if the right proportions haven't been used.
The nation's favourite gastronomical obsession is - you guessed it, pasta! The amazing variety of pasta often baffles visitors. Obviously there is spaghetti, but I bet you didn't know it sires an entire breed of spaghetti progeny! So hold your breath - here's the entire spaghetti family coming your way! There's cappelini (also known as angel hair), bucatini, a thick spaghetti with a narrow hole through the middle, and vermicelli , to name just three. The ribbon family includes fettucine (small ribbons), linguine(little tongues) , tagliatelle which comes from 'tagliare', to cut --- these ribbon-like strips were supposedly inspired by the beautiful blond tresses of a 16th century woman!
And if we're talking of spaghetti, we can't possibly miss out on pasta! A lot of us were initiated into the intricacies of Italian cuisine with pasta! If you are visiting Italy, be prepared to be presented with an entire list of pasta to choose from! There's penne (quills), rotelle (small wheels), farfalle (little butteflies), conchiglie (shells), fedelini (the faithful), mostaccioli (little mustaches), orecchiette (little ears), tortellini (little twists, filled with meat, cheese or pureed vegetables) and ziti, bridegrooms. All of these are termed pastasciutta (dry pasta) to differentiate them from pastas such as stelline (little stars) which are used in broths or soups. "La voglia di una pastasciutta" (roughly translated, a pasta attack) strikes all Italians abroad at one time or another, and the average Italian is less adventurous than most in terms of experimenting foreign cuisine.
A short, sharp espresso signifies the end of a meal (and aids digestion) but no self respecting Italian would order a cappuccino after 11 am. Cappuccino, coffee with swathes of frothy milk, constitutes the Italian breakfast, together with a brioche the only brief meal in an Italian's day.
If you live by coffee, and try out a different variety ever time you visit a caf‚, then you'd probably be familiar with all the different permutations and combinations of cream, milk, coffee and water! It seemed fitting to end off our little piece on Italian gastronomical obsessions by paying tribute to their astounding range of coffee preparations!
There's Espresso (just called CaffŠ in Italy) served in a small espresso cup.
Safar Majlis Glossary: Espresso is a black, Italian style coffee that literally means "made on the spot for someone who orders it". It is served in a small, demitasse (3 oz) cup of strong coffee produced on a machine designed just for that purpose. Coffee is placed into an espresso machine and hot water is forced through the coffee at very high pressure - extracting all the flavour possible.
Then there's Doppio or Doubel Espresso. Which is just what it says! Double amount of coffee in a espressocup.
Ristretto is: (short or shrunk) More concentrated espresso - made using the same amount of coffee but less water, by shortening extraction time.
Tip from a tourist: Just use the coffee that is yellow (crema) when it pours out of the machine. Itïs the best tasting.
Lungo or (long) Espresso made with more water than usual.
Macchiato: Espresso defiled with a little steamed milk on the top.
Corretto: (corrected) Espresso which have been corrected with cognac or something else.
Con panna: Like "macchiato", but with whipped cream instead of steamed milk.
CaffŠ freddo: (chilled espresso) Chilled, sweetened espresso served in a tall glass with ice.
CaffŠ latte: Espresso mixed with steamed milk. Usally made during the morning hours when a straight espresso is too much. Contains more milk than a cappuccino with only little froth on top. In Italy usually made with coffee from a moka.
Latte macchiato: (stained milk) Steamed milk stained with a cup of espresso. To be served in a tall glass.
Cappuccino: Espresso with foamed milk - 1 part espresso, 1 part steamed milk, 1 part froth.
Cappuccino scuro: (dark or dry cappuccino) Cappuccino made with less milk than usual.
Cappuccino chiaro: (light or wet cappuccino) Cappuccino made with more milk than usual.
Cappuccino freddo: (chilled cappuccino) Cappuccino on the Rocks.
And finally there is BARISTA or the Bartender!
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Mexicans are famous for their hot'n spicy food. Did you know they have not one but more than five different varieties of chillies with which they season their cuisine?
Both fresh and dried chilies are used as seasoning. Chilies are a natural preservative, thus making Mexican dishes good candidates for the freezer.
Anaheim peppers are pale green, long, and slender, with a rounded tip and a very mild flavor. If you buy canned "mild green chilies," they are most likely Anaheims.
Jalapenos can be hot -- or very hot! They are dark green, fat and squat, with a rounded tip. The smallest ones are usually the hottest ones! They're used fresh and pickled.
Chipolte chilies are smoked, dried jalapenos. As the jalapenos are smoked, they turn brown.
Poblano chilies are often used to make a dish called Chilies Rellenos. They're dark green and they range from mild to hot. They look like an elongated bell pepper and are excellent for stuffing.
Serranos are smaller and slimmer than the more common jalapenos. They're green, but turn a brilliant red as they ripen. They're fiery hot - a little serrano goes a long way!
Ancho chilies are a dried variety; they are actually vine-ripened, sun-dried poblanos.
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