As the headlines today are filled with news about Italy and their referendum vote, now is a good time to take a look at some of Italy’s major, but lesser known culinary contributions.

When we think of Italy’s food, it’s always pizza, pasta, tomato sauce, and Alfredo sauce, and cannoli. But Italy has a very rich and unique selection of food, that it has created, or simply greatly improved. Here’s a few example of just some of them.

The San Marzano tomato.


Probably one of the greatest culinary contribution out of Italy. It is something many of us consume regularly without even realizing it. It’s the tomato responsible for your tomato sauce and pizza sauce to taste so great! Italy is responsible for many great tasting varieties of tomato, but the San Marzano is recognized by many chefs around the world as the ultimate tomato, simply for it’s superior taste.







When people think of Italian deli meats, they usually think of salami. But Italy has some of the widest and best varieties of deli meats. Prosciutto is one of it’s finest and most Italian one. It’s a dry cured ham typically used for appetizers served thinly sliced. It has a strong but very classy flavor.







Pandoro is a very traditional Italian bread, that’s very cake-like and sweet, usually covered in powdered sugar. It has a very unique taste, that’s out of this world, but very Italian.







This is not something we usually expect to see on a menu, unless we’re in a Japanese restaurant. But Italy, has refined the art of cooking octopus, along with many types of “frutti di mare” and sea foods in general. You can order nice grilled octopus, salad with octopus, or even have it as a pizza topping.






This is a name that has become more and more familiar in our daily lives, and not something you would just find in big cities, but still deserving of a spot on my list. Gelato is not simply ice cream with an Italian name. It is a richer, denser, sweeter, and creamier variant of ice cream. Or really, the ice cream we commonly know is really a variant of Gelato, following the timeline and origins of ice cream.





Espresso is a staple of the Italian life. You can find it everywhere, and pretty much everyone at home in Italy has an espresso machine. Espresso is typically served in small shots, as it’s much stronger and contains much more caffeine. Espresso is available in many flavors.


These are just a few out of many great food and culinary contributions coming from Italy, that we can sometimes forget, or just haven’t heard about yet. It’s a country with a very long and deep culinary history often dating back to the Renaissance, sometimes the middle ages, and even as far back as ancient Rome.


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