The Italian food dictionary

Take an alpha-bite-ical look at Italian cuisine…

Archestratus The first known Italian food writer, who wrote a poem in the 4th Century BCE saying that Italian food was all about using "top quality and seasonal" ingredients.

"Buon Appetito!" Before dinner with friends, exclaim this and expect the same good wishes in return!

Curing Dry cured meats such as prosciutto, bresaola, salami, speck and coppa are often served thinly sliced.

Digestivo An after dinner drink served to aid digestion, such as grappa, Sambuca or amaro.

Emilia-Rogmana This Italian region is known for yummy treats such as tortellini, tagliatelle, lasagne, grana padano and pancetta.

Formaggi Italian cheese is among the most popular in the world. And it’s not surprising – we can’t complain about parmesan, gorgonzola, mozzarella and provolone, right?

Gelato 'Gelato' is literally the Italian word for ice cream, but it’s usually softer because it contains less air. Some say that there are also less artificial flavourings used and a lower fat content.

Herbs Italian chefs love their herbs and often toss basil, rosemary, oregano and thyme over their bruschetta, salad, pizza and broth.

Invasions Arabs invaded Sicily in the 9th century, introducing spinach, rice, almonds and possibly spaghetti. Normans brought casseroles and salt cod, while Northern Italy shows influences from Germanic culture.

Jamie Jamie Oliver is one of the many celeb chefs to tour this amazing country to try and learn more about its cuisine. Italy has its own food legends too, like Giorgio Locatelli and Antonio Carluccio.

Knead Italian mamas simply love kneading dough made from semolina, flour and eggs to create their own bread, pizza and pasta.

Limoncello A lemon liqueur produced mainly around the Amalfi Coast. It’s made by steeping lemon zest in alcohol until the oil is released and mixing the yellow liquid with syrup.

Mercato The word for a street market in Italy, such as 'Sant'Ambrogio' in Florence, 'Pignasecca' in Naples and 'Ballaro' in Palermo.

Naples When pizza was first invented in Naples, it only came with a tomato sauce. Gooey cheese was added later.

OlivesThese bitter little nuggets grown across Italy are either fermented with brine for eating or ground to produce oil.

Pasta The earliest recorded reference made to pasta was back in 1154. Since then, pastas from ravioli to rigatoni, fusilli to farfalle have been regarded as staple Italian foods.

Queen The Margherita pizza was named after Queen Margherita of Italy when she was presented with a tomato, mozzarella and basil pizza (to represent the Italian flag) on her 1889 visit to Naples.

Risotto A creamy dish usually made with starchy rice, wine, stock, cheese and butter served before the main course.

"Salute!" The Italian word for 'cheers', usually used while clinking glasses before drinking. 'Cin cin' is the more informal version.

Trattoria An informal Italian restaurant, famous for an intentional lack of menu, family style tables and wine served in decanters.

UmbriaA great food region in central Italy often known for its rustic 'cucina povera' or peasant cooking, using seasonal, local ingredients and fresh produce.

Venice In this scenic city, you’ll often find food fodder such as polenta, porcini mushrooms, beans and legumes, veal, radiccio, squid, tiramisu and prosecco on the menu.

Wine Italy is the world’s second largest wine producing country after France and boasts drops such as Moscato, Pinot Grigio, Chianti, Vino Cotto and Sangiovese. Slurp!

Zabaglione A custardy Italian dessert made from egg yolks, sugar and Marsala wine.