This is a guest blog brought to you by Flavours Holidays, a specialist Italian tour operator offering quality cookery courses and holidays in Italy since 1998.
To get the most out of your culinary travels in Italy, do as the Italians do; shop like an Italian, eat like an Italian and drink like an Italian. Speak to waiters, ask locals for advice, chat with shop owners and watch what people buy, when they eat their meals and which accompaniments they choose.
Cooking tips while traveling in Italy
Use these travel tips to find out the best ways to live like a local with these cooking tips while traveling in Italy. They are perfect for saving money while travelling, and eating extremely well!
Don’t go big on breakfast
Italians tend to start the day with a strong espresso or a milky café latte, accompanied with a pastry which is often a croissant or crostata (Italian breakfast tart).
If you’re cooking your own breakfast pastries then bear in mind that the Italian croissant, known as acornetto, differs from the French version. It is less buttery, a little lighter, tends to be smaller and is usually finished with a delicious orange glaze.
Many of the Italian dishes you might be used to at home are variations of traditional dishes, adapted to suit the western palate.
For example; did you know that Bolognese sauce is traditionally served with tagliatelle rather than spaghetti? Or that an authentic carbonara sauce isn’t made with cream? Trust the chefs you meet and learn to cook authentic dishes the traditional way.
Cook two courses for lunch
The saying “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” doesn’t apply in Italy. Lunch is the main deal in Italy and you’ll notice that many shops and tourist attractions shut for several hours during lunch time.
To cook lunch the Italian way, prepare a generous pasta course, followed-up with a protein course of meat or cheese, perhaps with some fried veggies on the side. If serving wine, include a jug of water to dilute it with and have fruit or gelato ready for desert.
Shop in local markets
Join the locals and shop for your goods in Italy’s wonderful open-air markets, rather than going to the supermarket. Not only do local markets expose you to the best seasonal foods of each region but they’ll also give you the opportunity to speak with stall owners, ask them questions about their foodstuffs and maybe even taste some of their wares before you buy them.
To get the most out of your trip, go armed with an Italian dictionary and learn the names of the ingredients you plan to buy.
Italian cuisine varies greatly between regions and each Italian region has its own speciality dishes, cooking preferences and local ingredients which have been shaped by the local geography, history and climate. You should appreciate this distinction by noticing what’s on sale in local markets, look around at what’s growing in the fields, what people are cooking and what local restaurants are serving up.
For example, Venetian cuisine features risottos, heavy sauces and tiramisu. If you are travelling in Tuscany, expect to be cooking more simply using plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit, cheeses and breads, with delicious Tuscan soups a firm feature of the cuisine. While the coastal regions like Cinque Terre will naturally favour seafood and fish dishes.
If you are passionate about Italian food, try a Flavours cooking holiday and enjoy learning how to create traditional recipes like an Italian.
What are your special tips for living like a local while travelling? Do you have any other cooking tips while traveling in Italy?