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Italy (Christina Kline)

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1: The northern part of Italy has hot summers. The winters are cold, but the temperature rarely drops below freezing during the day. The South, including Sicily, has mild winters and long, dry, hot summers. The mountainous regions including the Alps and the Apennines have long, cold winters and short, cool summers. Italy's warm Mediterranean climate is best suited to growing crops such as fruits and vegetables both early and late in the year in the South and raising cattle in the North.

2: Italy’s distinct boot shape makes it one of the most recognizable countries in the world. The mainland is a peninsula and both Sicily and Sardinia are islands. These are all surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea. Together, Italy has nearly 5000 miles of gorgeous beaches. The southern and rural regions of Italy are more flat with rolling hills while northern Italy is more mountainous. There are two major ranges in Italy that cover more than 75% of the landscape: the Alps in the north, which form the northern border, and the Apennine range that creates the backbone of the mainland.

3: Because the southern regions of Italy are mostly vast areas of flat and rolling land, they are ideal for growing oranges, olives, and grapes in large groves and vineyards. However, since the majority of the northern regions are more mountainous, meat and dairy products are more popular there. Rice is also grown in the North near the Po River.

4: The most significant agricultural products of Italy are olives (olive oil), grapes (wine), and oranges, especially blood oranges.

5: Italy has approximately 116,300 square miles within its borders (only slightly larger than Arizona) and there are about 60.6 million people. | Italian is the official language; however, Albanian, Catalan, German, Greek, Slovene, Croatian, French, and numerous dialects are also spoken there. | ¡Guten Tag! | ¡Merci Beaucoup!

6: The majority of Italians are Roman Catholics.

7: The name Italy comes from the word italia, meaning “calf land,” perhaps because the bull was a symbol of the Southern Italian tribes. | When European Jews were being persecuted during WWII, it was not unusual for some Jews to hide in Italy’s ancient catacombs. | The Leaning Tower of Pisa was built in 1173 and began to lean soon after. During WWII, the Nazis used it as a watch tower. | In 485 A.C. Italy was invaded by Attila the Hun. | Interesting Historical Facts

8: One of the greatest holidays in Italy is Christmas. Many people celebrate Christmas Eve with a huge feast, often featuring seafood. The Christmas season lasts until Epiphany, January 6, the date when the Three Wise Men are said to have reached Jesus’ manger. | NATALE | Salted cod, vermicelli (thicker than spaghetti), capon (rooster), and turkey are all typical dishes.

9: Carnevale in Italy is a huge winter festival celebrated before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday with parades, masquerade balls, entertainment, music, and parties. Children throw confetti at each other. Mischief and pranks are also common. It's a time for pastries which are sold by vendors country-wide. | Berlingozzo is a simple ring-shaped cake | Cenci is simply fried dough cut into ribbons and powdered with confectioner's sugar. | CARNEVALE

10: Customs - Many times, especially in the South, the extended family lives together. - Italians greet with cheek kisses and hugs. - There is no such thing as "personal space". - Bella figura, or good impression, is important. - Waiters have to be called to a table and the check must be requested. - Elderly women are highly respected. - Italians are incredibly proud of the regions from which they are from. - There is no drinking age. - Lunch is the most important meal; they eat many courses.

11: Good Luck - Seeing a spider at night means monetary gain. - Dropping things: someone's thinking of you - Dreaming of someone's death extends their life by 10 years | Bad Luck - Purple - Friday 17th - Hanging paintings of birds in a house - Placing a hat on a bed - 13 people at a table - Breaking a bottle of olive oil

12: INGREDIENTS | 8 chopped ripe roma tomatoes 5 leaves fresh basil, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 pinch of dried oregano 1 dash of crushed red pepper 1 pinch salt 1 pinch ground black pepper 2-3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 1 loaf of Italian-style (or French) bread, cut into diagonal slices

13: 1. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, basil, garlic, oregano, red pepper, salt, pepper and olive oil. Use more olive oil, if necessary, to coat the entire mixture. Allow the mixture to sit for 10-15 minutes for flavors to blend. 2. In the meantime, preheat the broiler. On a baking sheet, arrange the slices of bread in a single layer and brown both sides slightly in the oven. Remove the slices from the oven. 3. Spread the tomato mixture on the still warm toasted bread slices and serve. | Bruschetta | DIRECTIONS

14: Spaghetti alla Carbonara

15: INGREDIENTS | 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 6 oz pancetta (1/4 in slices) 2 Tbsp kosher salt 1 lb spaghetti 3 large eggs and 1 large egg yolk, beaten 3/4 c grated Parmigiano-Reggiano 1/4 c grated Pecorino Romano Freshly ground black pepper to taste | DIRECTIONS 1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it ripples. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring often, until crisp. Slide the pan off the heat and forget about it for a few minutes. 2. Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the salt and the spaghetti and cook, stirring often to prevent the pasta from clumping, until al dente. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. 3. Working quickly, transfer the hot spaghetti to the skillet with the pancetta and place over very low heat. Immediately add the beaten eggs, half of the cheese, and toss well. Add just enough of the reserved pasta water to make the mixture lusciously creamy. Sprinkle generously with pepper and serve at once. Pass the remaining cheese at the table.

16: Pizza Margherita | INGREDIENTS Pre-made crust or homemade crust 1/2 c tomato sauce 1/4 lb fresh mozzarella di bufala, sliced 3 - 4 fresh basil leaves 2 - 3 Tbsp olive oil

17: DIRECTIONS | Spread the tomato sauce on the dough, spread out slices of mozzarella evenly, drizzle the olive oil, add the basil and bake (brick oven if possible) for 10 minutes at 500 F.

19: INGREDIENTS 2 q canola oil, for frying 1 lb sheep or cow's milk ricotta, drained 1/2 c superfine sugar 1 Tbsp vanilla 1/4 c tiny chocolate chips 1 egg white, lightly beaten Powdered sugar for dusting | DIRECTIONS 1. Make shells. 2. In a mixing bowl, stir together the ricotta, sugar, vanilla, and chocolate chips until well-mixed. Spoon into a pastry bag with an open tip and place in the refrigerator. 3. Stuff shells with ricotta cream, dust with powdered sugar and serve. | Cannoli di Ricotta

20: Tiramisu | INGREDIENTS 6 egg yolks 3 Tbsp sugar 1 lb mascarpone cheese 1 1/2 c strong espresso, cooled 2 tsp dark rum 24 packaged ladyfingers 1/2 c bittersweet chocolate shavings, for garnish

21: DIRECTIONS 1. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer with whisk attachment, beat egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Add mascarpone cheese and beat until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of espresso and mix until thoroughly combined. 2. In a small shallow dish, add remaining espresso and rum. Dip each ladyfinger into espresso for only 5 seconds. Letting the ladyfingers soak too long will cause them to fall apart. Place the soaked ladyfinger on the bottom of a 13 by 9 inch baking dish, breaking them in half if necessary in order to fit the bottom. | 3. Spread evenly 1/2 of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers. Arrange another layer of soaked ladyfingers and top with remaining mascarpone mixture. 4. Cover tiramisu with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 8 hours. 5. Before serving, sprinkle with chocolate shavings.

22: Basil | Herb with a very pungent smell and taste; a subtle peppery and earthy taste with a slight hint of sweetness. Used in sauces, pizza, pesto, anything with tomatoes, and other popular foods. | Oregano | Aromatic herb with erect, hairy, square stems. Generally used dried in pizza, grilled vegetables, meat and fish. | Common Herbs

23: Rosemary | Parsley | A bright green leafy herb used in soup stock, vegetable dishes, and grilled meat and fish. | An herb in the mint family used in roasted lamb, potatoes, and focaccia. | And Spices | Rosemary | Sage | Herb with woody stems and thick leaves. Used in salads, dressings, and meat dishes.

24: Casu Marzu is a traditional sheep milk cheese eaten in Sardinia that contains live insect larvae. | Coda alla vaccinara is a modern Roman stew made of "oxtail" (usually veal tail) and various vegetables. | Mozzarella di Bufala is actually made from yak milk and is stored in bags of water. It is usually shaped like a sphere but can also be made to look like a braid. | Cieche Fritte is fried baby eels. They are no longer than 1 cm and transparent in color. They are usually served fried. | WEIRD FOODS

25: U N I Q U E F A C T S | - The average Italian consumes one half a pound of bread a day, 26 gallons of wine per year, and 25 kilograms of a pasta a year. - The ice cream cone is an Italian invention. - The espresso machine hails from Italy. - Pizza was "invented" in Naples around the 1860s.

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  • By: Christina K.
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  • Title: Italy (Christina Kline)
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