A little bit of history
Italian gastronomy has developed over the centuries and takes its roots in Antique cuisine. A collection of Roman cookery recipes written by Marcus Gavius Apicius that he named after him has influenced the Italian culture.
The culinary culture of Italy really started with the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 when each region of the country started to form their own traditions. The first known Italian food writer was Archestratus a Greek Sicilian. He wrote a poem about the quality of seasonal produce and the fact that dishes shouldn't be masked with spices. Italy has a lot of middle east influences. Like nowadays, they used to eat a lot of dishes based on olives, cereals, vegetables, wine and cheese.
When Christopher Columbus discovered America, he brought a lot of new ingredients to the country such as tomatoes, peper, chili and potatoes that significantly changed their way of cooking and eating. Marco Polo, the famous explorer also brought lots of new ingredients from China such as rice.
Produce of different regions of Italy
In the North West of Italy we can find a lot of charcuterie and cheese while in the north east black truffles are very popular. In this part of Italy, people eat stuffed pasta, polenta and risotto. In the region of Val d’Aoste (north west of Italy), Italians have the typical Tuscan beef, beef cooked in a wine sauce and often served with polenta which is made out of boiled cornmeal. In the region of Emilie Romagne (north east), the typical dishes are stuffed pasta such as Tortelloni, Capelletti or baked Lasagna. They also have the famous potato Gnocchi and lots of grilled fish, calamari and octopus.
In the South we can find the Provolone and the Mozzarella cheese. Thanks to the dry weather, they have lots of citrus fruit. We can also find the famous pesto, a sauce made with basil, garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano and olive oil. It is in the region of Campanie that we find the famous city of Naples where Pizza and Maccheroni were born. It’s in this area that they produce the best tomatoes in the world thanks to presence of the volcano Vesuve. They eat a lot of fish and seafood. In Sicily the Italian cuisine have a lot of arabic, spanish and greek influences. Dishes are often sweet and salty at the same time. We can find lots of nuts such as almonds and pistachios. They also have candied fruit, olives, capres and oranges.
Italy is well-known for its espresso coffee. Espresso beans are roasted to a medium dark color in the north and even more darker color in the south. The wine is an important part of the italian culture. It’s commonly had during meals the same way it is in France. The typical desserts that we can find in Italy is the Panettone: a traditional christmas dessert, Gelato: the italian ice-cream, the Panna Cotta and the Tiramisu.
Today, the differences between the north and the south are still important. Each region of Italy carries its own tradition, influences and history from the past. Over the years, these traditions have grown and have transformed to offer concepts out of the ordinary.
How Italian cuisine influenced the world’s gastronomy
Italian food started its influences abroad during the 19th and the 20th century when the country was hit by wars and poverty. A mass immigration towards the United States of America started mainly from the South of Italy. Napolitains brought pizza outside of the country which has been an emblematic italian dish in the USA ever since.
In the United Kingdom, Italian cuisine was brought by Claudius and his troops in the Southern British coast during the Roman Empire. The first italian restaurants didn’t however opened until the late 80’s when Mediterranean food revolution began with the expansion of olives, fresh tomatoes, and a healthier way of cooking, Italian food started influencing more and more northern countries.
The romantic image of La Dolce Vita made Italian gastronomy popular and many ingredients were imported in all of the countries. We could also talk about the italian soft power, with all the small italian delicatessen shops we find in almost every country, Little Italy in New York City with a smell of italian culture with all the italian restaurants and shops founded by Italian immigrants from the 19th and 20th century.
How does the historical background influence Renata’s concept?
Creating an italian vegetarian restaurant has always been a dream for the owner of this restaurant (Renata). The question is why did she choose pasta ? What does it represent for her ? Is there a link with her culture ? And finally what is the concept of Trattoria ?
In Italian cuisine everything is considered to be user-friendly. It is all about being reunited around the same big plate of pasta. That is the main reason for the opening of this atypical restaurant. In the owner’s memories there were a lot of those meals. This tradition is something she wants to pass on to her daughters and more people if possible.
When she goes food shopping, it always begins with the main ingredient pasta and what meal she is going to cook with them. Which vegetables would be more interesting with this kind of sauce or herb ? It is truly a mind game of association but also something she absolutely loves to do. This represents an even bigger challenge when it has to be vegetarian or vegan.
However, having a meal surrounded by family or friends is always a pleasure. She wants her restaurant to reflect that, to share her point of view, her culture.
Trattoria is a concept of a little Italian bistro with a welcoming service. The mood setting is important, for example waiters try to talk more with the customers trying to make a friendly place to go to. The restaurants dress code is professional but relaxed. We can find a real complicity between workers and clients.
The concept of Trattoria is taking your time to enjoy little treats in life, having a meal in a homely place and appreciating the presence of your loved ones. For the atmosphere to be like this there are few tricks, for example the tables must not be too far from each other to make clients want to talk between themselves. Attending to this restaurant, you will feel pleased to be greeted by joyful people and that is what Renata wants to create:
A little bubble of happiness where you can eat delicious food.
A new Italian concept
Every restaurant knows that if you want to constantly attract new clients, a project needs something special. Italy has clearly understood that as it offers unusual restaurants that break the traditional codes.
Instead of eating with your knife and fork why not eat with your fingers in the II maggiolino in Milan. Why throw away leftovers when you can feed them to donkeys at the Ciabot restaurant in Rivanazzo. If these new restaurants present special concepts, you can also eat in unusual locations. Who wouldn't want to eat in a 1920s Chocolate Factory in Rome or in a surprise location in Ferrara where a table will pop up at any time at any place and clients are warned only an hour before. You basically don't know where you are going to eat.
Obviously one of the most important aspects of eating in a restaurant is the service. It can be famous for the waiters behaviour like in the Cencio la Parolaccia restaurant where waiters curse at their clients in Rome. But it can also be a special experience like eating at the Ciak si Mangia restaurant with deaf waitstaff, in Rome. If you get the chance to go to Italy and want to live an unforgettable experience, one of these restaurants should do the trick.
It's this kind of restaurant that the Trèfle Rose wants to offer. They want their clients to experience a different service that helps them understand how these handicapped people work but also to enjoy their personalities. These kind of projects also help give examples to younger children going through the same thing.
Last edited: 27/04/2019