One of the things you hear often when Italian food is described is that it’s seasonal. When a particular vegetable comes into season, you’ll see it in every market and on every menu – it’s a bit overwhelming, and yet it’s easy to see why people would get so excited about an ingredient they only see briefly every year.
Visitors to Rome in the spring, for instance, will be hard-pressed to avoid artichokes. Thankfully, there are a couple of varieties in the way they’re most often prepared, so you don’t risk getting artichoked-out quite so easily.
Back in January, in my very first post on Under the Tuscan Gun, I wrote about one of the sweetest topics a food blog can cover – a chocolate festival. Perugia’s EuroChocolate is undoubtedly the most famous chocolate festival in Italy, but chocoholics should take note – it’s not the only chocolate festival in the country. In fact, there’s another city up north with a claim to one of the most popular chocolate flavor combinations ever created.
The city is Turin, and the flavor is chocolate-hazelnut – or, as it’s known in Turin, gianduja.
It’s easy to understand why Italians are proud enough of things like parmigiano-reggiano that they would have laws protecting the genuine article and legal ramifications for those producing fakes. But to offer the same kind of legal protection to a head of lettuce seems a bit silly, right? Not if you’re talking about the famous Radicchio di Treviso, it’s not.
It’s hard to say the words “chocolate” and “Italy” in the same breath without immediately thinking about the Umbrian capital of Perugia. Why? Because this city is home to both Italy’s best-known chocolate maker and its most famous chocolate festival.