Italy’s Traditions and Treats

Written By: Ellie Wilson, MS, RD  Senior Nutritionist, Price Chopper Supermarkets

Italy has passionate food traditions, many of them specific to a region and originating centuries ago. Such is the case with San Pellegrino mineral water – obtained from a natural spring in the town of San Pellegrino, the naturally effervescent mineral water has been bottled by residents for over 600 years. In 1899, that morphed into a business to bottle and distribute the water, which is the same company today. Time marched on, and flavors were added to the natural soda, beginning in 1932 with orange juice (Aranciata orangeade). The flavors expanded the line over the years, including the very popular grapefruit and blood orange varieties. In between a juice and a soda, they are great refreshers, a nice surprise in cocktails, and can be a way to offer children something special to drink at holidays.

iStock_000012168328_LargeCheese is a world of heritage, flavor and tradition in Italy. We have some truly premium Italian cheeses such as Sottocenere, a sheep’s milk cheese that follows a Venetian preservation tradition of aging under ash. Slivers of black truffles are embedded through Sottocenere, and the ash is mixed with spices, such as nutmeg, cloves, anise, and cinnamon, which subtly convey their flavors as well. You can also enjoy Pecorino Ginepro, a hard artisan cheese with a fruity/salty/savory flavor that comes from the juniper berries and balsamic vinegar it is submerged in while aging. The cheese is white with a burgundy rind, a beautiful and delicious addition to your table.  Taralli crackers will remind you of a cross between a bagel and a pretzel. It can be sweet or savory, and comes in different sizes. Serve them all together on a tray with fresh grapes, olives, and dried apricots or cherries – a lovely tapas sampling of Mediterranean flavors.

Make everything special when you share premium Butter of Parma – easy to swap into any recipe, it can elevate any meal. Then, gelato, traditional Italian ice cream, crowns our celebration of Italian foods with a wonderful finish. Lower fat than American ice cream, it is slow churned, denser and has a more intense flavor. The balance of sugar and water in gelato ensures it never completely freezes – it is meant to have a creamy texture between hard frozen and soft serve ice creams. Gelato comes in a wonderful variety of unique flavors. Enjoy it year-round as a treat that can truly transport you – Vive Italia!

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