The Empire embraced the flavors and ingredients of many of the lands it had conquered: spices from the Middle East, fish from the shores of the Mediterranean and cereals from North Africa. On the daily basis people of Rome ate mostly bread, olive oil and wine with helpings of vegetables, legumes and cheese. This was called Mediterranean Triad and is still considered central to the diet known worldwide as the Mediterranean diet.
The spread of Italian food diversity began after the fall of the Roman Empire when individual city states gained separate identities and traditions. Each region began to display its own unique way of cooking. The north developed Tuscan beef while black truffles were popular in Marches and mozzarella cheeses developed in the south.
Different types of bread, pasta and cooking techniques differed according to region. The southern Italian regions embrace hard-boiled spaghetti and the north prefers a soft egg noodle.
Over the years, Italian cuisine has greatly evolved due to outside influences that have added to its specific flavor and appeal. Coastal regions are known for their developments in delicious fish and seafood dishes. The island of Sardinia supplies more traditional and simple style of cuisine. Arab influence in Sicily affected its cuisine with introduction of different spices and sweets.
Many pasta varieties are quite regional to central parts of Italy each being prepared and cooked in different ways. It was in the 9th Century when Arabs brought their knowledge of making pasta to the Mediterranean basin, during the Arab conquests of Sicily. Ever since, pasta as we know it today is made in the same manner.
Influence of the religion
The religion has also influenced the Italian way of cooking and eating. After declaring the Christianity there were heavy regulations upon people behaviors and habits including the way they ate. Food and eating were strongly associated with sin and with sexuality. It was considered that spiritual perfection could be obtained through abstinence and fasting and, in particular, through renunciation to meat consumption. Meat was considered a dangerous aliment not only for its symbolic meaning: it was refused as a food both because its production involved an act of blatant violence, the killing of an animal, but also because it was considered an energetic food, which could provoke in its consumers unclean desires and passions.