If you’re anything like us, you’ll love Italian food. One of our all-time favourite holidays involved a tour of Italy, which resulted in a huge spike in demand for pizza, pasta and Prosecco. Here’s hoping the people of Italy were able to replenish their stocks after we left.
I love the simplicity of Italian cuisine, dishes usually comprise of two to four ingredients, allowing the quality of the produce to shine. Just take a look at this Mozzarella di Bufala Campana from Locanda De Gusti – try and resist licking your screen.
Mozzarella makes a regular appearance in our fridge, but it never tastes this good. Perhaps the problem lies with us buying Italian sounding food, rather than authentic Italian produce.
Much like a saltire appearing on Scotch beef, the Italian flag is a seal of approval on cheese, prosciutto and olive oil. You may even be willing to pay a premium for what you think are authentic Italian ingredients – something marketeers know all too well.
Slap an Italian flag on a packet of Italian sounding meat and charge to help increase sales. I’m sure I’ve been guilty of falling for this on a number of occasions, it’s something I’m much more conscious of after learning about the Italian sounding phenomenon at one of Edinburgh’s best (if not the best) Italian restaurants.
The Italian Chamber of Commerce hosted an educational evening, with plenty of food and drink at Locanda De Gusti on Dalry Road. If you’ve never been to this restaurant, make sure you add it to your list, it’s the closest we’ve come to our Italian holiday in Edinburgh (it was also included in our round-up of Edinburgh’s Best Restaurants).
Chef and owner, Rosario Sartore hosted the evening with Davide Bargna from Italian Chamber of Commerce. Rosario’s has a passion for local Scottish produce, but when it comes to the core Italian ingredients, these need to be authentic.
Four ingredients are essential to the production of Parma Ham:
Parma Ham is all natural, no additives or colourings are permitted. Prosciutto Di Parma can only be made in the hills around Parma, the unique conditions of the region have produced the highest quality hams.
Look for the Parma Crown and Protected Designation of Origin logos, which can be found in the black triangle of all packets.
The expression “mozzarella” derives from the verb “mozzare” (to cut off), which refers to the operation performed in dairies where the cheese is handled in a characteristic movement.
Mozzarella Di Bufala is made with buffalo milk, from the area of origin, created with a technological process that complies with the production regulations.
Look out for the Mozzarella Di Bufala seal and Protected Designation of Origin logo.
Our fridge is never without this hard cheese made from raw cow’s milk. The milk in Authentic Parmigiano Reggiano must not undergo any heat treatments and must come from cows fed primarily on fodder obtained in the area of origin.
The cheese must be matured for at least 12 months and is sold as a whole cheese, portions or grated.
Parmigiano Reggiano is produced primarily in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena and parts of the provinces of Mantua and Bologna.
A mark is fire-branded onto the cheeses which meet the requirements of the Protected Designation of Origin.
Also, look out for the Parmigiano Reggiano and Protected Designation of Origin logos.
Consumers are being misled by products which sound or look like they were made in Italy.
These ingredients might not adhere to the techniques and standards associated with original products and could damage the reputation of Italy as a producer of high-quality food and drink.
And possibly one of the most important points, foodies may miss out on the joy of the True Italian Taste!
I’ve already changed my approach, I no longer place faith on convincing labels. I’m looking at the small print before buying what I believe to be Italian ingredients – you’d be surprised how many I’ve found that are no more Italian than Mario and Luigi.
One of the best ways to enjoy authentic Italian ingredients is to go straight to the source, something we’ll be repeating very soon (we’ve got our heart set on Modena and Osteria Francescana)
Find out more about the Extraordinary Italian Taste.