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antipasto.jpg
From "Italian Antipasto" by The Kroger Co., 2006.

Antipasto

This is the Italian version of appetizers - it usually includes cheeses, raw or marinated vegetables, and cured meats like prosciutto (see Meats and Cheeses below).

bruschetta.jpg
From "La Bruschetta tomates-mozzarella" by Gwel, 2006.

Bruschetta (Broo-sket-tah)

Grilled or toasted bread topped with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, garlic, and spicy red pepper. Sometimes topped with tomato, vegetables, and/or cheese. Usually served as a snack or appetizer.

focaccia.jpg
From "Focaccia" by Your Dictionary, 2006.

Focaccia (Foh-caw-cha)

A flat bread made from high-gluten flour, oil, water, sugar, salt, and yeast, and topped with olive oil and herbs, sometimes cheese, meat, or vegetables as well. This is often eaten warm, and dipped in a mixture of olive oil, butter, anchovies, and garlic (called Bagna Cauda).

minestrone.jpg
From "Hearty Minestrone Soup" by Whole Foods Market, 2006.

Minestrone (Min-eh-strow-nee)

An Italian soup made with vegetables (onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes), beans, and pasta or rice. There is no set recipe for minestrone, as it is usually made from seasonal vegetables, whatever is on hand, or leftovers.

risotto.jpg
From BBC, 2006.

Risotto

A traditional Italian dish made with rice. Dry rice is fried briefly in oil before adding broth, which slowly thickens as the starch from the rice is extracted. Meat, vegetables, and various varieties of broth can be added to the dish. Cream is never used in this dish - the traditional way of cooking creates a creamy texture on its own.

panna_cotta.jpg
From "Juhlapyhien kananmunaherkut saavat veden kielelle " by Finfood, 2003.

Panna Cotta

Panna cotta is a creamy dessert: a gelatin-thickened custard set in a mold and flavoured with vanilla, fruit, or spices, and served chilled.

tiramisu.jpg
From "Bella Sera Italian Grill Menu" by Bella Sera, 2006.

Tiramisu (Tee-rah-mee-soo)

Tiramisł is a soft, cakey dessert typically made from lady finger cookies, espresso, mascarpone cheese, eggs, cream, sugar, marsala wine, and cocoa.

pizza.jpg
From "Octopodial Chrome: Stuff That Made Sense at the Time" by Bob Uhl, 2006.

calzone.jpg
From "Ledo Pizza Artwork Center" by Ledo Pizza, 2005.

Pizza, Calzone, Panzarotti, Stromboli

Pizza is a flat, oven-baked bread covered with tomato sauce, cheese, and sometimes other toppings, including: basil, oregano, garlic, peppers, asparagus, broccoli, olives, onions, mushrooms, pepperoni, salami, ham, bacon, ground beef, anchovies, and shrimp. Pizza is normally eaten hot but is also eaten cold (especially leftovers).

To make a calzone, pizza dough is rolled, folded in half, and stuffed with mozzarella, ricotta, or other cheeses, meat and/or vegetables, and baked in an oven. It is often served with marinara sauce (tomato sauce with herbs and spices). Similar to calzones are Panzarotti, which are made the same way but deep fried instead of baked. Stromboli are rolled up pizzas.

gnocchibowl.jpg
From "Il nome della nuova ristorazione" by SuperChef, 2001.

Pasta, Gnocchi (Nyo-kee) (pictured above), and Polenta

Pasta is made from flour, water, and sometimes eggs, and is mixed, kneaded and formed into various shapes. It is cooked in boiling water and served with a variety of sauces. Dried Italian-style (genuine) pasta is made from durum wheat semolina or flour, which gives it a light yellow color and a slightly chewy texture when properly prepared. Some common pasta shapes are spaghetti, linguine, penne, macaroni, and fettucine. Pasta is also used as an ingredient in dishes like lasagna and in casseroles.

Gnocchi are Italian dumplings made from boiled, riced potatoes and semolina flour. These are boiled and served with sauce like traditional Italian pasta.

Polenta is cornmeal mush, a side-dish often served with mussels, calamari, fish, or fried vegetables.

cannoli.jpg
From "Cannoli" by Cannoli Enterprises, 2006.

Cannoli

Cannoli are pastry desserts with fried pasta tube-shaped shells and a sweet, creamy filling commonly containing ricotta cheese and vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, Marsala wine, or other flavorings.

gelato.jpg
From "Gelato and Granita" by Mozzicato DePasquale Bakery and Pastry Shop, 2006.

Gelato

Gelato is the Italian equivalent of ice cream, though it is made only from milk (or soy milk) and sugar, with other flavourings like fresh fruit, chocolate, nuts, candies, or cookies.

cappucino.jpg
From "Visual Collection" by Visual Facts, 2006.

Espresso and Cappucino (pictured above)

Espresso is a strong, flavorful coffee, brewed by forcing hot water under high pressure through finely ground coffee beans. Ordering a coffee in Italy means ordering an espresso.
 
Cappucino is an espresso prepared with milk, generally 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 frothed milk.

Dishes

Italians eat a lot of fish and seafood, such as mussels, clams, scallops, calamari, and shrimp. Veal, beef, pork, and chicken are also eaten. Lasagna is a well-known layered pasta dish with cheese, tomato sauce, meat and vegetables. Canelloni are tubes of pasta stuffed with cheese and tomato sauce, and sometimes meat, spinach, or other vegetables.

Meats & Cheeses

Prosciutto is a dry-cured ham that is cleaned, salted, and left for two months, then washed several times to remove the salt, hung in a shady, airy place until dry, and finally hung in an airy place at room temperature for up to eighteen months.

Mortadella is a finely ground heat-cured pork sausage with lard pieces, garlic and anise flavourings, and sometimes with broken pieces of pistachio.

Salami is an Italian sausage made from chopped pork and salt, which were air-dired in a casing. Most Italian salamis contain garlic.

Asiago cheese hard, aromatic, with a crumbly texture, with a flavor akin to Parmigiano. It is often used in salads, soups, pastas, and sauces.

Gorgonzola is made from unskimmed cow's milk, and can be buttery, or firm (depending on the length of aging), crumbly and quite salty, with a 'bite' from its blue veining. It is frequently used in Italian cooking, with risotto or polenta, but is often eaten as a dessert cheese.

Mozzarella is traditionally made from water buffalo milk, although now and more often outside of Italy it is made from cow's milk. It is the most often used cheese for pizza. Mozzarella is available in fresh, smoked, and reduced-moisture varieties. It has a mild flavour.

Parmigiano-Reggiano is a hard, grainy cheese made from raw cow's milk, cooked but not pressed. Cheeses resembling Parmigiano-Reggiano but not made in Emilia-Romagna, Italy are known as Parmesan cheese. It is grated over pasta, used in sauce, or eaten in chunks.

Provolone is produced mostly in 5 to 12 inches long pear shapes, with a spherical knob on top for hanging. It is made with whole-milk from cows, and varies from mild to sharp in taste, depending on the variety.

Ricotta is made from the whey left over when making cheeses such as mozzarella or provolone. It is similar to cottage cheese and a key ingredient in cheesecake, lasagna, and cannolis.

Wine

Wine is an alcoholic beverage made with fermented grapes or grape juice. Wine-like beverages are also made from other fruits, flowers, grains, and honey. Chianti and Sangiovese are two widely-known wines produced in Italy.

See Sources: Wikipedia; BBC; Bella Sera; Cannoli Enterprises; Eurosewer; Finfood; Gwel; Ledo Pizza; Mozzicato DePasquale Bakery and Pastry Shop; School Division, Houghton Miflin Company; SuperChef; The Kroger Co.; Uhl, Robert; Visual Collection; and Whole Foods Market IP, L.P.

Last updated Jan. 12, 2006.