Image by Phillie Casablanca via Flickr By David Leigh
One of the great pleasures of visiting other countries is experiencing the local cuisine and Italy, the land of pizza and pasta, is naturally no exception.
Italian cooking is quite regional, with the local specialities a treat to find out, and so it is with Turin, which as well as having some excellent restaurants is much more affordable than many places, such as Rome, Paris or London.
Although pizza is enjoyed worldwide and is easy to find wherever you are in the world it is true that nothing can beat a real Italian pizza. I don't know whether it is in the way they kneed the dough, the type of flour, the olive oil used or any other factor, but the thin crispy base and perfectly flavoured toppings never taste anywhere near as good as in Italy. Turin is no exception and there are dozens of pizza restaurants vying for your custom and all of them seem equally good as one another. If the weather is good then many restaurants have tables outside and if you are sightseeing then don't forget the therapeutic power of half an hour watching the world go by while resting your feet.
Watch out for the fixed price menus, such as offered by Tre da Tre near the tower of La Mole and the University, where you can eat for around 7 euros including pizza and soft drink in relaxed and pleasant surroundings, or another option is to head for somewhere serving fixed price pasta menus - pasta with bolognese sauce or similar should cost no more than EUR10 per head including a drink and coffee and just like pizza, there is nowhere on Earth better to sample pasta dishes than in Italy.
Turin has a number of specialities, such the typical Italian breadsticks that were supposedly first baked to help cure a sick child-prince, later the first King of Piedmont, and are found in a wider variety of shapes and sizes than other areas of Italy, is famed for its chocolate and also is host to the biennial Slow Food Movement event held at the Lingotto Exhibition Centre.
The Slow Food Movement came out of the idea that meal times should be enjoyed as a social activity with family and friends, and taking time to shop for good quality ingredients and lovingly prepare the meal are part of this philosophy, in stark contrast to the fast food exports of America.
It was formed by Carlo Petrini in 1976 in Barolo, about 70 kilometres south of Turin, and exists to promote high quality, naturally grown ingredients, while defending traditional methods in the food industry. Membership is worldwide and events include food and wine tasting.
Turin is also famed for its antipasto, a variety of appetizers served by many bars in the evenings. Don't be surprised to be brought several dishes without asking for them for which you will be automatically charged, or let your waiter know if you only want a drink without the food accompaniment.
David Leigh has visited Turin twice and plans on going back as soon as he can. You can read more about Turin restaurants at http://www.bella-torino.com.
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