In the bustling city of Manila, Italian food is made by American Fast food chains. Their take on what is hailed to be one of the best cuisines in the world does not give justice to what Italian cuisine really is — a celebration in our mouth created by using fresh and natural ingredients.

Growing up, I never liked pizza – because thick bread with a smudge of tomato sauce (in an obviously off ratio) topped with onion, capsicum, ground meat, and cheese did not appeal to me at all. On the contrary, pasta’s what I have always craved for. That tomato sauce with a little tangy flavour topped with cheese has always been my way of celebrating an occasion. You could say that every milestone I’ve achieved in my life, I have been with my family and my well-loved pasta dish – it can be the cream-based Carbonara dish with bacon, a plate (or two) of le lasagne, or the very humble spaghetti alla bolognese.

When I got older, working and able to travel, I had a chance to visit Italy for the first time. I first set foot of Rome, and little did I know that I’d discover the wonders of Italian cuisine alongside the wonders of wine, gelato and architecture. I tasted different mouth-watering pasta dishes I never thought existed. Who would have thought that eggplants on pasta would work? Who would have thought that those little pillow-shaped balls would be made out of potatoes and flour, and they taste awesome! I would never imagine having a rice meal without a viand, but Risotto itself is wonderful. I felt ignorant for a second, but hey, it was my first time outside of Asia, and my first time exploring the real Italian goodness.

After that first trip, I decided to learn more about Italian Culture – its language and its cuisine. As my passion grows, so has my knowledge of Italian cuisine and philosophy. The one thing I have learned from reading, following and trying Italian recipes is that, using fresh and high-quality ingredients and cooking them slowly produce one heck of a dish. Italians never use 10 or more types of spices in one dish, but a few. Ensuring to source the freshest meat (for a meat dish), the best extra virgin olive oil (the heart of Italian cooking and the king of the Mediterranean diet), and vegetables — definitely, nothing can go wrong! So the next time you want to try some good Italian food at home – remember one thing, get the best ingredients as indicated by the recipe.

For now, here’s one recipe you could try at home:

An article written by Ana, a friend of Timperio from the Philippines