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FOOD & WINE >> Food and Wine of Veneto

Food and Wine of Veneto

Venice can be compared to Mecca, it's the only place in the world that should be seen at least once (see Venice and die). The city is at the same time joyous and melancholy, perhaps because it is not made just of stones but above all of sky and water. Venetians have an immense undercurrent of joy in their character and their biggest sin is their appetite, but an appetite combined with their love of chatter and gossip, not to be compared with the seriousness with which their northern neighbors approach the table.

One must understand its origins in order to understand Venetian cuisine. For years Venice was the crossroads of the trading of spices between Europe and the Orient. In the trattoria and streets where locals and visitors including arabs, asians, and turk met, the various cuisines became known and diffused. From these encounters came dishes such as "riso al cavroman", a Levantine method of cooking the castrato with cloves and cinammon, which was transformed by the Venetians into their risotto. "Sardelle in saor" are plates with fried sardines placed on a bed of browned onions which were changed by adding spiced vinegar, pine nuts and raisins. "Saor" was also the traditional food of the sailors who dominated the commercial seas because of its ability to be conserved for a long time.

Great works of art and a high quality of life came from the wealth accumulated by the Venetians. For three centuries, from the Renaissance to the Baroque, Venetian's country homes were arranged in order to offer lavish hospitality to guests. Where others built fortresses and castles the Venetians luxurious villas for their vacationing families. Among those entertained were artists, writers, musicians, and long hours were spent performing music and theater pieces, dancing, conversing, and......eating. The fertile countryside offered food in abundance, including vegetables, fruits, game, large shrimp and river trout. Venetian cooks are proud of their ability to combine foods and invent sauces to enhance to origian flavour of the ingredients.

What could be more simple than combing rice and peas with broth? Much more than the ingredients put together. The cooks are experts at determing the correct amounts to combine. They are capable of finding thirty delicious ways to prepare that most common of fish, "baccala`"

Other pilasters of Venetian cuisine are beans and polenta. The classic "minestra di pasta e fagioli" is simple but delicious. Polenta (a kind of fried corn bread) is a basic ingredient of Venetian cooking. Seafood depends on the season but is prepared in the simplest manner. Venetians love to "Andar per ombre", spend the evening going from one osteria to another, tasting an "ombra" or "shadow" of wine, before settling down to dinner.

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