The Italian Consulate General of Italy in Houston is delighted to present the 8th annual “Week of Italian Cuisine in the World” on November 7th at Rice University’s Moody Center for the Arts. This year, the consulate will be collaborating with the Italian Trade Agency, as well as the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce in Texas, to feature Houston’s most renowned Italian culinary experts. The evening will be catered by chefs Maurizio Ferrarese, Alfredo Mojica, Roberto Crescini, and Giancarlo Ferrara from Houston establishments Alba, Amore, Davanti, and Amalfi, respectively.
The “Week of Italian Cuisine in the World” was initiated in 2016 by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation with the intention of promoting Italian culture through its outstanding cuisine. Now, eight editions later, the event can be found globally anywhere that the Italian nation is represented—from the EmQuartier Plaza Zone in Bangkok, Thailand to the Institute of Italian Culture in San Francisco.
Past editions of this prominent event have brought themes based on regions like Puglia, chefs like Pellegrino Artusi, or concepts such as “food sustainability”. This year’s theme, “well-being with taste” or “il benessere con gusto”, will present the city of Houston with dishes rooted in the fresh, health-conscious ingredients of the Mediterranean diet.
While the natural beauty, cultural vivacity, and deep history of the Mediterranean region may overshadow a topic as specific as the health benefits of its cuisine, it’s not a quality to be overlooked. According to the Mayo Clinic, the healthy fats and plant-based foods of the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of factors (such as high cholesterol and hypertension) that cause heart disease. Furthermore, scientist from the Harvard school of public health state that the Mediterranean diet can support healthy aging as well as healthy weight loss.
Because the 20 diverse regions of Italy offer a variety of cultures and traditions, these health-conscious dishes present themselves in many different forms and flavors. The north of Italy, for instance, has a gastronomic tradition based on vegetables like “radicchio”. In fact, the globally famous vegetable soup “minestrone” originated from this region. The center of Italy, on the other hand, is known for its use of mushrooms—especially in the region of Umbria. According to UCLA Health, these mushrooms can lower sodium intake, protect brain health, and stimulate gut health. The southern regions of Italy are especially “Mediterranean”. This region is known for its emphasis on fish, shellfish, aromatic spices (basil, oregano, etc.), and—of course—olive oil. Altogether, these wholesome and natural ingredients are the pillars that make Italian cuisine “well-being with taste.”
Perhaps just as diverse as the regions of Italy is the city of Houston, Texas. With over 12,000 restaurants and consular offices representing over 86 nations, the city of Houston is an international hub with the finest cuisine. The Consulate General of Italy in Houston, along with its collaborators, are thrilled to showcase the unforgettable taste of Italy in the Houston scene.
(by Angela Jardina)