When, Where and How Of The Classic Italian Risotto
Image Credit: Risotto for the soul (Photo Credit: Pixabay)

Sitting in an Italian restaurant and scanning through their menu, you’ll find an abundance of hard to pronounce dishes that you wouldn’t know much about. The beauty of Italian recipes is that even though they belong to one small country they can have such a variety of notes and flavours, each more intriguing than the other. In fact, dishes from the South of Italy are quite different from the ones in the North. The risotto is one of those dishes which is popular yet we know little about. 

A bowl of creamy risotto is truly magnificent and finds its roots in the north side of the country. The risotto grain looks like thick rice but it isn’t so and neither is it a type of pasta. It is something else entirely, it is specifically called Arborio which is a cross between the two. Making risotto from scratch is no big feat and even a beginner at cooking could create a half-decent dish. 

Around the time of its inception, different parts of Italy were under different kingdoms. Sicily was part of the Arabs while Milan was under the control of the Spanish. The Arabs made rice for eating and mainstream production in the region while the Spanish introduced the Paella (which much like the risotto uses thick rice grain). Yet it is important to note that rice was definitely introduced by the Arabs to both Italy and Spain. Italy's weather was perfect for growing rice and the Arabs took advantage of that. And over time, rice became a staple in the country and part of Italian cuisine. There also existed (and still exists) a cross between risotto and paella which used risotto rice and saffron (an ingredient in paella) called Risotto alla Milanese.

The risotto is composed of four basic components, sautéed vegetables which are called soffritto, vegetable or meat broth, herbs and spices, and the special risotto rice.