Italian Cuisine | CNN iReport | Italia Mia |

Italian cuisine is very diverse and interesting, yet strikingly simple. It’s simple in a sense that it often contains only a maximum of eight ingredients. It’s interesting due to its regional diversity, and despite that there are only a few ingredients, is there’s difference in taste and just one dish and tickle your taste buds in many ways.
The dishes, instead of created in culinary schools by chefs and experts, are created in the home, usually by grandmothers and mothers and the recipe passed on from generation to generation. Per region, there are characteristic dishes and flavors, which tell a lot about the country’s history and lifestyle. The traditional Italian meal consist of three to four courses, starting with appetizer, first course (usually pasta, soup, or any hot dish), second or main course (this is where the meat comes in), and dessert, Some meals may have two desserts, first cheese and fruit before the sweet dessert followed by coffee and then digestives or liqueurs.
Pizzas and pastas are very popular Italian dishes, some even being adapted as a fusion of other cuisines. Pizzas alone have various flavors and combinations. The simple cheese pizza can have a few more ingredients on top and it immediately turns into something different. Pasta can be simply tossed with garlic and olive oil or have the robust blend of tomatoes, anchovies, olives, and spices. Pastas also come in various forms, and not just the long stringy ones in spaghetti. There are flat, long pastas, wide pastas, pastas that can be stuffed with meat and vegetables and then topped with sauce. There are bow-shaped pastas, twists, cuts, and more pasta shaped into fun shapes for soups and also fun shapes like animals to appeal to young children.
Aside from popular dishes like pizza and pasta, there are also meats and seafood served in the main course. Fish is most popular during lent, when abstinence from meat must be observed. For dessert, there is the popular tiramisu, a cake made from layering biscuits dipped in coffee or coffee liqueur with a mixture of egg yolks and mascarpone cheese whipped together. Christmas cake also had its origins in Italy.
Espresso had its origins from Italy. It can be served as is in a demitasse cup or can be the base of other coffee drinks such as macchiato or cappuccino. Alcoholic beverages are usually wine, beer, and other liqueurs such as limoncello or grappas.