THE International Cultural Food Festival set for today at ZB Sports Club in Vainona will provide an opportunity for enthusiasts to pamper their palates with a selection of tasty Italian dishes. Italian cuisine is known to be one of the most popular in the world and it is noted for its regional diversity and abundance of difference in taste.
The Italian stand at the food fete will give foodies an epicurean adventure that will allow them to taste their way around the European country known for its unique culture, art and architecture.
Italian dishes differ from one region of the country to another as a result of geographical, climatic and cultural influences. The differences in regional dishes are determined by availability of animal and vegetable food products. Italian cuisine is also seasonal and places priority on the use of fresh produce.
In a statement, the Italian Embassy in Harare said that members of the public attending the festival will be treated to a variety of culinary surprises and that they should expect to sample delightful variety dishes that are both traditional and tasty free of charge.
A dish called polenta that is typical of most of northern Italy may provide an interesting experience for Zimbabweans as it is similar to sadza.
This traditional rural food is made from finely ground maize meal and it can be served with various cheeses, stockfish, vegetables or various meats.
Risotto, a specialty dish of Venice and the surrounding parts of Veneto region, will also be featured.
Its ingredients can highly vary from one area to another; however, fish, seafood pumpkin, asparagus, radicchio and frogs' legs are used in different localities.
Bologna is notable for pasta dishes including lasagne tortellini and tagliatelle. This region is also known for Parmigiano Reggiano, which is used as a key ingredient in the pasta dishes and is widely used in cooking.
However, Piedmont which is nestled between the Alps and the Po valley is the Italian region with the widest variety of cheeses.
The region is also famous for the quality of its Carrù beef and it is out of this that the tradition of eating raw meat seasoned with garlic oil, lemon and salt - the famous Carpaccio originated.
Pizza which is popular in many different parts of the world originates in Neapolitan cuisine .
Traditional specialties from Sicily include arancini which is a form of deep-fried rice croquettes.
Traditional Italian desserts include tiramisu which is made of biscuits dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of egg yolks and mascarpone, and flavored with liquor and cocoa.
Piedmont is also one of the Italian capitals of pastry and chocolate. It is the centre where world famous products like Nutella, gianduiotto and marron glacé are manufactured.
Italy produces the largest amount of wine in the world and is both the largest exporter and consumer of wine. Popular alcoholic drinks from Italy include Martini, Vermouth, Campari and Grappa.
In Italy food is a culture, it is part of the lifestyle and the history of the country. Traditional meals in usually contain three or four courses and are seen as a way to spend time with family and friends instead of immediate sustenance. As a result daily meals can be longer than in other cultures and during holidays family feasts can last for hours.
Commenting on its participation in the International Cultural Food Festival, a Italian cultural attaché at the embassy in Harare said:
"The goal of taking part in this Cultural Food Festival is to promote cultural exchange between the people of Zimbabwe and Italy, by exhibiting Italian cuisine the embassy gives a small insight into Italian culture, thereby creating mutual understanding and encouraging Zimbabweans to travel to Italy to experience this colorful culture first hand."
Several foreign missions including the Italian, Spanish, Indian and Austrian embassies resident in Harare and local food processing companies have confirmed their participation.