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Italian cooking: traditional regional vs national dishes – who wins?

Italian cooking will also celebrate 150 years of Italian unification this year, but the regionalism associated with traditional Italian recipes and dishes nearly always outweighs a nationalist interpretation of Italian cuisine.
Over recent weeks, as Italy celebrated the date of March 17, there has been much debate over whether Italians can be unified at the table, so to speak.

The ’soft’ conclusion is that while Italy has a multitude of regional dishes and styles, it’s all celebrated in a common spirit.
But is there one dish that represents Italy? Not really.
There are many dishes, Italian wines, and different cooking styles which all represent different parts of Italy, although the Italians in the culinary business at the moment are claiming a unified spirit.

Coincidentally, 2011 is also the centenary of the death of Pellegrino Artusi – considered the pioneer of what is called Italy’s enogastronomic renaissance and author of the work Science in the kitchen and the art of eating well (La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene).
The work was the first to start collecting what could be considered Italian recipes, written in Italian and collected from across the Belpaese – from Sicily to Piedmont.

It’s a work that can be rivisted in times when Italian people still associate more with their local regions and territories, than any national definition of their culture and therefore culinary traditions, despite festivities for unification this year.
Can turnip tops and octopus from Puglia be just as Italian as ossobuco and Panettone from the north? There is a world of Italian cooking to be discovered and while it doesn’t unite us as such, it’s all to be enjoyed at the table of one of the world’s greatest cooking traditions.

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