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Tasting Italy, Part One: Northern Italy

Eat your way through this "rich" territory in a new book from America's Test Kitchen and National Geographic.
By Published Nov. 13, 2018

With its myriad regional flavors, Italian food doesn’t have a national character, but the Italian way of eating does: a reverence for local ingredients, sensitively and simply prepared and enjoyed alongside family and friends, slowly and with gusto. We’ve teamed up with the travel and culture experts at National Geographic to capture Italy’s magnificent regional cuisine, culture, and landscapes in a one-of-a-kind book—Tasting Italy.

The book is divided into three chapters—Northern, Central, and Southern Italy. In the first installment of our Tasting Italy series, we'll travel through Northern Italy, and visit the other two areas in future articles. But you don’t have to wait to get all of Tasting Italy. Order your copy now and start exploring—and cooking—as soon as it’s delivered to your door.


 

If there was but one word to describe the food of Italy’s northern regions, it would be “rich.” This territory, which tumbles from the snow-peaked dolomites down to the vast Po River Valley, is Italy’s butter belt, where dairy trumps olive oil, fresh egg pasta beats dried, and meat is supreme. This is ground zero for Italian capitalism. As they say in Italy, “For every church in Rome, there is a bank in Milan.” While Northern Italians may live a fast-paced, modern lifestyle, their cuisine remains rooted in the rustic flavors of the land.

Piedmont

There are eight provinces in modern Piedmont: Alessandria, Asti, and Cuneo, which are famous for their wines; Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, which includes glorious Lake Maggiore, whose microclimate allows for Eden-like gardens of olive and lemon trees; Turin, the industrial heart of the region, with its coolly elegant capital city and delectable chocolatiers; and finally Novara, Vercelli, and Biella, home to so much Italian rice.

Recipes of Piedmont

Liguria

A narrow, mountainous arc of coastline strung between the French Riviera and the Tuscan frontier, overlooking 200-plus miles of the radiant Mediterranean. Ligurians still cultivate ancient crops on the narrow strip of earth pinched between the sea and the hillsides. The Riviera di Levante’s enchanting towns, with names such as Golfo Paradiso, Portofino, and Gulf of Poets, evoke its color and romance.

Recipes of Liguria

Recipes of Liguria
Emilia-Romagna

If this region’s capital city, Bologna, is fabled for its culinary treasures, so are the other provinces in the Padan Plain, places with names such as Modena, Parma, and Ferrara that roll off the tongues of food lovers everywhere. This is cattle and hog territory, land of silky hams, famed cheeses, and pastas with whimsical names such as cappelletti (little hats) and tortelli con la coda (pies with tails), all lubricated with good wine.

Recipes of Emilia-Romagna

Recipes of Emilia-Romagna

Other Areas in Northern Italy

Valle d'Aosta
Lombardy
Trentino-Alto Adige
Veneto
Friuli-Venezia Giulia

What's your favorite dish from Italy? Let us know in the comments! And for our comprehensive collection of recipes from Northern Italy and beyond, order your copy of Tasting Italy today.