Italian cuisine is generally characterized by its simplicity. Italian cooks rely chiefly on the quality of the ingredients rather than on elaborate preparation. Ingredients and dishes vary by region, ranging from fruits, vegetables, sauces, meats, etc. Olive oil is the most commonly used vegetable fat in Italian cooking, and as the basis for sauces.
Italian cuisine is well known for its use of a diverse variety of pasta. Pasta include noodles in various lengths, widths and shapes. Italian pasta is traditionally cooked al dente (Italian: firm to the bite, meaning not too soft). First records about Italian pasta are found in 13th century. In the beginning it was called “lagana” made from durum wheat and semolina with many varieties of ingredients and way of preparing. The modern word “macaroni” derives from Sicilian term for kneading dough with energy, as early way of pasta making. Today pasta is made in traditional way with support of modern technology to make the preparing process much easier. In the late 19th century pasta finally comes to the US, since that day it becomes one of the most popular dishes until today.
In Italy, pasta and risotto are almost equally popular. Rice has been grown in southern Italy from 14th century. First risotto recipe dates from 1807 in Milano. The rice varieties associated with risotto developed in 20th century, with most popular Arborio rice, Padano, Carnaroli etc.