Italian food: a world of flavors

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Simple and Delicious Regional Italian Food
By Pat Marino
If you think that Italian food is all about pasta, sauce and pizza, then it’s time to think again. Some of the most fabulous foods in the entire world are Italian dishes that most people have never heard of. These dishes are most often regional in nature and often take on the characteristics of the regions and countries bordering the area of Italy where they originate.

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The trouble with ordering food in an Italian restaurant, like ones in the US, is that the manager of the restaurant needs to cut down the number of dishes they can serve so that the food can be ready in a timely fashion after you order. What happens often, then is the food that is distinctive but not so well-known gets left off the usual menu.

And because Italy is full of small but very diverse areas, this means that most of the great regional dishes simply are never available on the menu. A great case in point is food from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia area. This is a place right next to the border of the former Yugoslavia and when you mix that culinary influence in with the Italian love of cooking, you get some fabulous dishes that most people outside of Italy have never been able to sample.

Because this region shares a border with the former Yugoslavia, the Italian food here is strong with Austrian, Hungarian, Slovenian, and Croatian influences. One of places that this is most apparent is in the beer halls of the area, places you might more typically associate with Germany or Austria. Here they feature such dishes as Viennese sausage and goulash.

Goulash, which originated as a Hungarian dish, has taken on a distinct Italian taste here and can often be found in fine Italian food restaurants both in and out of Italy. Goulash is very popular in this region and is a thick stew of beef and local vegetables such as onions and red peppers. It is very thick and seasoned with paprika and can be served with pasta. Another dish that makes a frequent appearance at the beer halls in this area is Bohemian stew made with either rabbit or beef.

But, the meat used most often in dishes form this region is pork. And if you are ever visiting this are, make sure you sample one of their world famous San Daniele del Friuli hams. These hams are a staple meat of the local Italian food. The whole region is known for their spicy bacon and sausages. In fact there is a local dish called jota that is unique to the region and is a stew dish made with beans and bacon. But this is so very different from the kind of dish served in the southern areas of the United States. The pork in this area is spicy and this may come as a bit of a shock to foreigners not familiar with this brand of Italian food. The pork is often cooked over an open hearth instead of being roasted, and is seen in many dishes even if it is not the main entree.

There are so many kinds of Italian food that are not pasta with tomato sauce, that it is hard to be able to try them all in one lifetime; but you could certainly try. Because good food is meant to be good fun.

Pat loves to cook and spend time on the internet finding great deals on food and food gear. She writes about Italian food and the easy to use automatic pasta maker at

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