Japan Lover

Zaira’s Italian Cooking Tips

This was suggested by a request from a fellow blogger at Los Angeles Times Lakers Blog.

Thought it would have been nice to share stuff here without fullfilling the blog with too many words.

Italian cooking is a fine art.

But trust me, many people of my generation don’t have nor time now patience to practice it at a decent level. Still, many of my closest friends are gourmets, and therefore I have starting to learn cooking. I definitely can count on people around me who KNOW.

Being really keen at fitness, I avoid to dwell into fatty meals, though sometimes you just have to give up and enjoy things in life. Food, good food, is one of the most beautiful experiences you are allowed to on your journey.

To be scared of food is insane and unhealthy. You gotta eat everything, with moderation and  brain. If you eat more than you should, the day after do more gym, or stay light but never have cancel your 5 meals a day. NEVER.

Then variety is always the main rule: a world with only skinny people would be sad. Fuller figures if healthy are beautiful to catch around. Starving yourself to have bones out will kill you. Right? (you could say I speak so cos I am a thin person.. but I do believe what I said actually: starving oneself is plain idiocity).

In Italy we have MANY different styles of cooking. Each Region, each Province, each big and each small town have their typical recipes and they are absolutely variated regarding flavours, ingredients, colours and composition.

Only France might have as wide as cooking culture as Italy’s got.

In my Region (Lombardia) and in my zone (lowest part of it) rice and meat are the two main composers for meals. First dishes are mainly rice in a wide style of preparations (sapphron rice and sausage being the typical) while appetizers range spacely to include all of our territorial products that come with the numbers of cattles we have on this flat platform. Por and beef are the main types of the meat used, and there are just HUNDREDS of different types of salumi (ham, salami, mashed meat, all to either be served coldly sliced or used to be cooked in various styles of sausage).

Rice is the main composition for first dishes cos one of the areas which produces its finest italian quality is Lomellina, around Pavia.

Rice is a very versatile ingredient: you can accompany it with EVERYTHING creating the most fantasious first dishes, which are actually complete meals once you put in meaningful ingredients, from fish, to seafood, till meatballs, little sparrows ready for cooking or even… chocolate, or roses.

Even though Lombardia has no sea to mirror itself into, Milan has reportedly the best fish you can find in Italy (money can buy all..) and therefore lots of preparations involve fish. We prefer to cook fishes simply and then accompany them with potatoes or vegetables. Having lots of rivers and big lakes, Lombardia also use many fishes from rivers and lakes: stronger in taste, they request longer preparations and lighter contour dishes.

Being a Region with cattles, and having Alps around too, we produce a huge variety of cheeses. Again… the only comparison which comes is France. Around my area there is Gorgonzola cheese which is famous and widely used. It’s a spiced, creamy cheese that can be used alone, along meat and over rice to create the 4 Cheeses Rice (a classic).

I am teetotal so I am not the best addresser for indications there. Lombardia is not a region with excellence in table wines (no Tuscany or Piemonte…) but we have very good white wines and dessert wines.

Talking about desserts, Lombardia has a huge tradition of cakes and pastry. We use simple ingredients and longtimed baking. We use often almonds in preparations, and sour cookies to make very tastey cakes and cookies.

Secret for a good italian cooking is the correct preparation: use oil and butter to prepare your dishes conveniently. To not enlarge the fat rate, elongue it with yogurt, milk and sour cream. Balance the preparation, don’t overuse, cook it appropriately with fires that change intensity.

A good cooking requests patience and attention.

Ask me freely about recipes and I will try to provide them.

Always remember that Italy is HUGE about cooking. Really, any region has it specialities and all of them are amazing. ALL of them. Takes a life to know even only a tenth of all that we might be able to eat here around.

Buon appetito!

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1 Response to "Zaira’s Italian Cooking Tips"

I love the cooking advice. few things in life are as good as sampling indigenous dishes from around the world. My favorite, might be Kao Soi, a curry/chicken noodle dish from Northern Thailand. I also loved a ten cent Pad Thai dish they sell on the streets of Bangkok. We’d eat 5 dishes for 50 American cents. What a deal!

I also really loved a taco dish we had when we climed the Myan pyrmids in Chitzen itza. We drove 30 minutes outside of Cancun, and everything changed.. The people got noticable smaller and darker (they really are the direct descendants of original Maya people) and the food was no longer the big American hamburger dishes you get all over the western hemisphere, but were simple meat taco dishes on freshly ground corn tortillas. Everything was defined by simplicity and freshness and was easily one of the most simple and satisfying meals I’ve ever had.

Keep up the good work. Go Lakers.

Wes

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