The role of bread in Italian cuisine
Although pizza and pasta are usually associated with Italy, bread plays an extremely important role in Italian cuisine. There is a rarely meal served in Italy where bread is not included. It used to be called the ‘food of poor people’ because it was made with easily obtainable and cheap ingredients. Nowadays there are more than 250 different types of bread made all over the country.
In the Northern part of the country soft wheat flour is more common, but in regions like Lombardy you will find it mixed with rice flour or cornmeal. In central region of Tuscany you will find the famous pane sciocco baked without salt which is considered the best to eat with cold cuts. Sardinia has its own bread famous all over Italy called pane carasau or carta musica due to sound it makes when eating it as it very crunchy.
In the South of the country bread tradition turns mainly around durum wheat which is traditionally used for pasta. Several ingredients are often added to pane such as olives and nuts. Even though every region has its own specialty and variety of bread, there are some common types which include:
- Ciabatta. This is a classical type of bread you will find in almost every region. The name may be translated as ‘slipper’ due to its shape.
- Filonchino. This type of bread is long and soft, quite similar to baguette. It is often topped with sesame seeds or cereals.
- Focaccia. This is flat bread, something between bread and pizza. Depending on the region, you’ll have particular types of focaccia. Very famous are the focaccia ligure, with plenty of olive oil, sea salt and rosemary on top or the focaccia pugliese, made with potatoes.
- Freselle. This not really a bread but a bakery item. It is typical of the southern regions of Campania, Apulia and Basilicata. Durum wheat is used to make this type of biscuit which is cut into two pieces horizontally and cooked again.
- Grissini. These are long sticks of bread seasoned with rosemary, olives or sesame. The type of bread was created in Turin but is famous all around Italy.