From espresso and ice cream to international food activism, find out how Italy continues to evolve food.
The next time you take a sip or bite of something delicious, you might just want to say Grazie! Italy has given much to world gastronomy, from your morning cappuccino to pizza night and even that ice cream cone you indulged in! And that’s just for starters. Italians continue to bring change, innovation and conversation to the international and local food scenes.
1. They Created Ice Cream and Pizza
The ancient Romans dispatched labourers to mountaintops for ice and snow, which was then drizzled with wine or honey. It wasn’t until the late 1600s when the word sorbetto first appeared, followed by the first recorded sorbetto recipe by professional cook, Neapolitan Antonio Latini. Pizza is another dish with ancient roots. Romans enjoyed flatbreads baked with olive oil and local herbs, but it wasn’t until the early 1700s when the first Neapolitan crust was topped with tomato, and the modern pizza was born, followed by the first pizzeria in 1830
2. The Espresso Machine was Invented in Italy
Coffee might not have been invented in Italy, but we would argue Italians have done a wonderful job perfecting it! Caffè-espress was the original term for a cup of coffee made from freshly roasted beans, ground per order and brewed quickly, one cup at a time. The inventor of the first steam-powered coffee-making machine in 1884, Angelo Moriondo of Turin, is the man who made mornings a little easier for millions around the world.
3. The Slow Food Movement Was Founded By An Italian
Sometimes you have to embrace the past to become the future. In 1986, shocked by the massive queue in front of a newly opened fast food chain in Rome, activist Carlo Petrini created Slow Food. Now, the organization dedicated to biodiversity, a rejection of GMOs, and clean, healthy food for all, has 100,000 members belonging to 1,300 local groups, in 150 countries.
4. Italy Has the Most Geographically Protected Food Products
Denomination of Protected Origin (DOP) and Protected Geographic Indication (IGP) – these European Union certifications are your assurance that a product is of the absolute highest quality – that a product originates from a specific area or region and is crafted to rigorous standards. Italy produces close to 250 unique, traditional foods bearing this coveted seal. That’s the highest number in the entire EU, and that’s not even counting the wine!
5. They Continue to Advocate For the Protection of Quality Food
At the root of Italian cuisine is great respect and affection for tradition, the environment, and what the earth provides. The theme of this year’s Expo Milano 2015 – Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life – is one way Italy continues to promote quality, sustainable food for all.