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Oct 28, 2005 05:11 PM

difference between north italian and south italian cuisine (styles/dishes/decor etc)

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What is the difference between north italian and south italian cuisine (cooking styles/dishes/decor etc)

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  1. This is very general, and of course, there are always variations within every region, but here goes:

    Sauces: Southern=Tomato-based
    Northern=Pesto or cream-based

    Pasta: Southern=Ziti, Rigatoni, and other "tubes"
    Northern=Angel Hair, Spaghetti, Fettuchini,
    and other types of the thinner pastas

    Wine: Southern=Almost exclusively red wine
    Northern=White wine and red wine are used

    Other differences:
    Southern=Olive Oil predominantly used
    Northern=Butter or Olive Oil used

    I'm sure that others can add to this list of generalizations.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JB

      Also, I believe pasta in the south is usually dried and in the north it's fresh. In the south they tend to use more garlic.

      1. re: JB

        Southern Italian pasta is almost exclusively made without egg - water, a little oil and semolina only. The southern native cooks like a thicker, chewier pasta, too, such as the Pugliese orrechiete, whereas northerners prefer egg noodles, from angel hair to pappardelle. There's more emphasis on quickly-made, more highly-seasoned sauces in the south, more elaborate, richer, and longer-cooked sauces in the north, as per Bolognese. The northerners eat a fair amount of beef steaks and roasted pork, while in the south it's thin-cut pork chops and braised stuffed rollups of thin round steak, reflecting a less prosperous culture in general. Northerners eat beans, polenta, cream and butter; southerners eat more ripe tomatoes, olives, garlic and olive oil.

        This is all off the top of my head, and necessarily both incomplete and not universally true.

      2. Another difference is that rice/risotto is commonly eaten in NI and rarely eaten in SI.

        In fact, the regional cuisines of Italy are far more segmented than north vs. south. The food in Tuscany is different from the food in Emilia-Romagnia and is MUCH different than the food of Piemonte or Alto-Adige. Likewise, the food of Sicily is different from Puglia or Campania.

        Fred Plotkin's book, "Italy for the Gourment Traveler," gives an excellent description of each of the various regional cuisines of Italy at the beginning of every chapter in the book. Waverly Root wrote a book on this subject many years ago. I don't know if it is still in print.

        1. The differences in Cuisine are regional due to geographic conditions, product availability, foreign influences and economics.

          Northern Italy has always been rich and prosperous. Formerly rare ingredients and spices were used for their luxury status.

          The South was always poorer, with a more rugged climate.

          In general, Butter is used in the North, rarely in the South, while Olive Oil is used in both.

          The starch staple in the North is rice and polenta and fresh pasta made with eggs. In the South it is dried pasta.

          The bread in the North can be enriched with spices,raisins and fruit, while the bread in the South, is usually simple and rustic.

          The rich cuisines of Tuscany and Emilia Romagna are considered to be the best .

          I find Guiliano Bugialli's books on the Food of Italy to be wonderful. He is an historian as well as a great cook.

          1. THis might be just an impression, but in addition to all of the other differences, I've usually found that the foods of the north are more subtley flavored, or more flavored by a more gentle melding, whereas in the south, bold, contrasting flavors (tomatoes, garlic, strong olive oil, lemon, vinegar, olives, capers, anchovies) are more prominently featured in dishes.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Bunny-Bunny

              Are you talking about the food served in restaurants in the US or the food served in the actual regions of Italy and eaten by Italians?

              People from one region in Italy very rarely, if ever, eat the cuisine or drink the wine of another region.

            2. To add to the generalisations: southern food tends to be simpler -- a more "composed" dish is more likely to be Northern.

              Strong flavours are the hallmark of the south -- anchovies, garlic, olives, fennel, capers, chile peppers, much heartier tomato sauces. Sicilian tomato sauce is often made with dried or roasted tomatoes to concentrate the flavours.

              Oregano is a very Southern herb; sage a more Northern herb. Chervil in the north; fennel in the south.

              Northern desserts tend to be creamier and sweeter (though very few Italian desserts are puckeringly sweet); Southern tend to be drier and more tart. The use of candied fruit is common in the South; fresh fruit (other than citrus) is often a hallmark of Northern food.

              Northern food is OK, but I grew up on Southern food for the first twenty years of my life and so that's "real" Italian food to me.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                Southern food comes from the garden and the market more than the pantry or fridge. Sauce is something you throw together from what's on hand - squeeze the tomatoes dry, chop them up, throw them in the hot oil with the garlic and some dried herbs, fry a bit and there you are. Nonna's too busy to stir a simmering pot all Monday and serve it Tuesday, even if she could afford the three kinds of meat and the cream and all...