Let me introduce you to Maria, a lady from the region of Calabria, who is my friend’s mum.
She, like many women in Italy (especially in the South) makes her own pasta, bread, pizza and lots more. She belongs to a hard working generation of women whom I admire very much.
With our busy lives these days we are losing this kind of skills, and this is a shame, since the food that is cooked in a hurry (or worse, that is ready-made) cannot taste the same as slow cooked food. Learning how to feed a family is a skill and a passion that is passed down the generations. No book can teach you how your mother would, and this is mainly because passion, love and experiences all go into the food itself. Cooking is not just preparing food, but it is the passion and the wish to give something about yourself to the people you love.
There are so many different types of bread in Italy. Every region has its own speciality:
Sicily has the unique “Pan Forte” with sesame seeds, whereas in Calabria there is the “Pitta”, which is a bread made with a hole in the middle and made with flour or durum wheat, natural yeast and water.
In Sardegna there is the unique “Pan Carasau” which is made with durum wheat and natural yeast. The dough is flattened, then cooked until it swells. When it is cooked, it is divided and then cooked again. In Tuscany “Pan Toscano” is made with durum wheat and it has the typical cross in the middle.
In Emilia Romagna the “Piadina” is a flat bread made with flour, water and salt and cooked in a terracotta dish straight onto the fire, whereas in Trentino Alto Adige you can find “Pane di Segale” which is rye sour bread.
Brown or cereal bread is more typical of northern regions. The well known “Ciabatta”, or literally “slipper” because of its shape, has its origins in Liguria and it is popular all over Italy and abroad. In Piemonte the “Mica” is a salty bread which has been left to rise for a whole night.
There are still many more types of bread, all different and all interesting, but I still haven’t managed to try them all myself. Everytime I visit the regions there is always something new, it is always a never ending discovery of flavours.