Italian Cuisine: A Celebration of Rustic Yet Elegant Flavors

Italian cuisine, one of the most famous culinary traditions in the world, boasts a rich history, filled with diverse cultural influences. From the iconic pizza of Naples to the seafood of Sardinia, and the risotto of Milan, the second edition of Ambassador Kitchen brings you delicious fare that will warm your heart, with handcrafted preparations.

Italian Cuisine: A Celebration of Rustic Yet Elegant Flavors
Italian Cuisine: A Celebration of Rustic Yet Elegant Flavors

We joined Italian Ambassador to India Vincenzo De Luca for an evening of traditional Italian delights and learned how to make some famous classics.

Generous at heart

Italian cuisine is loved for its simplicity, quality ingredients, and the country’s passion for protecting its traditional culinary heritage—which may soon receive a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage tag. But one of the lesser-known characteristics of Italian cuisine is the generosity that plays an important role in adding ‘heartiness’ to a dish. “You have to remember to be generous with the mozzarella,” De Luca insists, as he puts together a classic Neapolitan pizza or a Naples-style pizza.

“The tradition and art of making Neapolitan pizza is inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity because of the tradition, expertise and quality of the products. For this recipe, we have here Italian tomatoes, Italian mozzarella and olive oil, and of course, fresh basil that We get it from our garden which is zero kilometers away from us,” he says as he puts fresh basil leaves on the pizza.

Making a pizza involves four different steps of preparing the dough and baking it in a wood-fired oven, rolling it, the Ambassador explained.

The art originated in Naples, which has about 3,000 pizzaiuli (chefs trained to make pizza). “Families in Naples also recreate art in their own homes,” he says.

The simplicity of this recipe is the hallmark of a great Italian pizza backed by a strong tradition and geographical heritage.

Root and regional diversity

Italian cuisine can be traced back to the 4th century BC, long before the unification of the country in the 19th century. The importance of food and culture during this period is unmistakable, as shown in the ancient cookbook ‘Apicius’, which dates back to the 1st century BC.

“Today, each region of Italy has its own distinctive culinary style, with very different ingredients and cooking techniques,” says De Luca.

For example, Tuscan beef is from the north, while mozzarella cheese is a staple of the south. Pizza originated in Naples, while tortellini is from Bologna and risotto is a Milanese dish. Italian cuisine has been influenced by ancient Greek, Roman, and Arab cultures, and includes exotic ingredients such as spices, wheat, and alcohol from around the world.

Key cooking ingredients include extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, pasta, pasta sauce, tomatoes, oregano, capers, porcini mushrooms, basil, Italian cheese, and red and white wine. Herbs such as parsley and basil are commonly used, while bay leaves add a kick of flavor to soups, sauces and stews. Sage is popular for its anti-inflammatory and digestive properties, while rosemary adds a peppery, woody flavor to roasted vegetables and meats. Oregano is more flavorful when dried and is commonly used in southern Italian and Sicilian cuisine. “It’s the quality and freshness of the ingredients that bring great flavors to life. The age-old culinary traditions passed down from one generation to the next help ensure that the classics remain relevant in the modern world,” says the Ambassador.

Timeless traditions

The introduction of pasta to Italy during the medieval period had a major impact on Italian cuisine, and it continues to be a staple made from durum wheat, which thrives in the country’s warm climate. Carbonara, a pasta dish from Rome, made with spaghetti, egg, pecorino Romano cheese, pancetta and black pepper is the perfect dish to get a jumpstart on the pasta trail. Gnocchi is another traditional Italian dish made with potatoes, flour and eggs, soft dumplings boiled and served with various sauces.

Then, there is risotto, a traditional Italian dish made with arborio rice, broth, and various ingredients such as mushrooms, seafood, or vegetables. The rice is slowly cooked in the broth and stirred until it reaches a creamy consistency. Then finished with Parmesan cheese and butter for added richness.

Tiramisu is a classic Italian dessert that is enjoyed around the world. Ladyfingers (known as “sponge fingers” in British English) are traditional finger-shaped pastries soaked in coffee and layered with a mixture of mascarpone cheese, sugar and egg yolks. The dessert is finished with a dusting of cocoa powder.

Says the ambassador, “These long-standing classics are a testament to the country’s commitment to proudly preserving its food traditions and culinary heritage.

Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe

Serves: 4


Spaghetti: 300 grams

Egg yolks: 5 to 6

Garlic cloves: 2-3 cloves peeled and crushed

Pecorino Romano cheese: 1 cup (hand shredded or grated)

Pepper and salt to taste


In a pot, bring salted water to a boil and add spaghetti and heat another pan next to it to fry minced garlic cloves until brown and crispy.

Cook until al dente, then drain and let the spaghetti cool. Save some of the pasta water for later.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, half of the grated pecorino romano cheese, and some pepper until combined to form an egg mixture.

Add the cooked pasta to the garlic, egg mixture, and pour in the reserved pasta water and stir until it’s creamy. Top it with the remaining cheese and some black pepper.

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