You’ll hear time and time again during your trip to Italy that there is really no such thing as Italian food. In fact Italian food is specific to regions rather than the entire country. In northern Italy rice and corn-based foods are just as popular as pasta, so you can expect more risotto (a rice dish) and polenta (boiled cornmeal). In southern Italy, and in Sicily in particular, the emphasis is more on simple recipes involving fresh fruit and vegetables and locally sourced seafood. The biggest surprise for visitors to Sicily is usually the pizza which has no cheese on it and a whole assortment of ingredients incorporated into the dough as well as placed on top – trippy. Enough about Sicily though, this blog post is about food in Milan, often said to be among the best in the country. And for those who are willing to be a little more adventurous in their food ordering, it can be a revelation, eat like a local in Milan.
As is happily the case with most food in Italy, food in northern Italy has an emphasis on locally produced foods so in coastal areas expect fish and inland expect whatever vegetables you see growing in the fields to be appearing on your plate. Food in Milan is also heavy on cream, so expect cream and cheese rather than tomato-based sauces. If you get to try only two regional specialties when you are in Milan make the first Risotto allo Zafferano/Risotto alla Milanese. Roughly translated as saffron risotto, this dish is a creamy combination of risotto rice, saffron, cheese and meat stock with the most beautiful golden color. The second absolute must for any foodie eating in Milan is Veal Cotoletta Milanese, veal steak beaten flat and then breaded and fried. It may not sound like it but Veal Cotoletta Milanese is so good that it has travelled all over the world and is one of the most popular dishes in Argentina.
For the even more adventurous traveler there is an almost endless amount of Milan specialties out there to be tasted. Sample local tripe stew, tender calf’s liver and another regional Milanese dish that has traveled the world – Osso Buco, a knuckle of veal braised with rosemary and sage, its marrow bone still intact. When in season the porcini mushrooms in Milan are as good as you will find anywhere in the world, whether tossed through a creamy pasta or cooked up in a cheesy risotto. Still hungry? Find a local Milan restaurant that serves zampone – pig’s foot stuffed with ground pork.