Posted: September 25, 2023
Author: Rachael Jarzembowski, Marketing Manager

Comfortably distinctive flavors

Taking a regional focus on a more familiar global cuisine, such as Italian, can give people a sense of adventure while at the same time providing authenticity. It also offers food and beverage manufacturers an opportunity to add excitement to their product lines by calling out the addition of regional ingredients in a recipe. This strategy can reinvigorate even the most familiar international cuisines, making them feel trendy again and piquing consumer interest.

Among Americans, Italian cuisine is almost universally enjoyed in one form or another, often pizza or pasta. (Datassential research reveals, 83% of consumers saying they love or like Italian cuisine.) Yet even though there’s great variety and complexity of foods and preparations within Italian cuisine, it is generally considered homogenous in the U.S. Granted, there are shared similarities in cooking techniques and ingredients among the regions of Italy. It’s true – no matter where you find yourself in Italy, specialty cheeses, cured meats, pasta, olive oil, and wine will be on hand. But it’s also true, there are distinct differences and local specialties throughout the country that make each region’s cuisine unique. 

That’s why in our latest culinary exploration at Wixon, we turned to Southern Italy – a large, geographically diverse area that stretches from the mountains of Abruzzo to the coastline of Sicily with everything in between. In contrast Northern Italy is the economic driver of the country whereas Southern Italy is traditionally more agriculturally rooted. 

Economic circumstances and locally available foods have shaped the centuries old cuisine found in Southern Italy. Here the ingredients are humbler, and the dishes are spicier than those used in the northern regions. The warm Mediterranean climate and vast coastlines supply the region with a bounty of fresh produce and seafood, all of which are used liberally in the local fare. Meat and milk come from sheep and goats – animals best suited to the landscape and climate. 

Because of the hot, dry climate, food preservation is an everyday necessity built into the local cuisine. As a result, meat, seafood, produce, and dairy products are aged, cured, or treated with oil and salt. These techniques not only give the foods delicious flavors, they also make them last longer without the need for refrigeration. 

It would be remiss not to call out the locally grown olives and other fruit – lemons, oranges, tomatoes, figs – which are highly prized for their distinct flavors. They have been used creatively in both sweet and savory foods and beverages for ages. (Think olive oils, pastas, pizzas, vinegars, limoncello, to name a few.)   

When examining Southern Italian cuisine, you can see how a single, flavorful ingredient can really impact a dish, making it crave-worthy. Using this regional focus when exploring Italian cuisine allows for a more transportive, authentic experience for people, as the history of food and wine in each region tell a story. See how our culinary and R&D team used this flavor foresight for inspiration. Wixon Innovates – Southern Italian