Traditional Italian cooking is often simple and are no grand fusions of complex flavors that undergo equally complicated cooking techniques. They often work with just what they have on hand. However, it doesn’t mean they don’t also use Italian spices. As a matter of fact, what’s known as Italian seasoning is actually a delightful combo of different aromatic Italian herbs. But, more often than not, in Italian cooking, only one or two spices or herbs are used for every dish. And Italian seasoning is more often outside of Italy.
Also, contrary to what many people may think, herbs and spices are not the same thing. Yes, both basically have the same purpose, to add or enhance flavor and aroma of food. But only those that come from leaves are called herbs. If they come from other parts of the plants such as fruits, flowers, bark, or roots, then they are called spices.
So what are some of the common Italian spices? Well, read on and discover some of them below.
The onion has been around since ancient times. According to culinary historians, traces of the plant was found in China and dates as far back as the Bronze Age. Experts believe, however, that origins of the plant ay be from the western and eastern regions of Asia.
Today, the onion is one of the most frequently used Italian spices in the culinary world. And it is not limited to a few cuisines only. It is consumed in all of Asia and it’s even a staple food in India. It is even no stranger to European cuisines. In fact, in Italian cuisine, it is among the golden trio, or soffritto, which is a base for many traditional Italian dishes.
Aside from its culinary value, it also has a slew of health and nutritional benefits. It has anti-inflammatory properties as well as vitamins B6, A, C, and E. It even has iron, potassium, and dietary fiber, all of which are essential nutrients the human body needs
Garlic is one of the most popular spices in the culinary world, and not just in Italian cuisine. This is because garlic has been used for flavoring food for centuries. In fact, it has been around for thousands of years.
Botanically a close relative of onions, it gives food a spicy and pungent flavor that is often used for fried or sautéed meat dishes. The part people most often use are the bulbs. But other parts of the plant can also be used for culinary purposes. Aside from Italian dishes, the garlic is also quite popular in many Southeast Asian cuisine, particularly Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese.
Another important spice, not just in Italy but also in Europe, Asia, and South America is the chili pepper. This is because it can make the simplest dishes into a breathtakingly thrilling ride of the palate. Often known as the veritable “kick” to many savory spicy dishes, the pepper is one of the top traded spices in the world today.
There are literally thousands of different peppers available around the globe. They can greatly vary in size, shape, and color. They also don’t have the same level of “spiciness”. The unit of measurement to determine this is called the Scoviile scale.
Not only do peppers make your dishes delightfully challenging to the palate, they are also high in vitamin C. In fact, peppers have more vitamin C than many other fruits and vegetables today.