In a country where it is difficult to find a bad meal Turin is known for its culinary excellence. Perhaps their success lies in the heavy use of eggs, cream, butter and fresh ingredients. Or maybe it is their sheer enjoyment in the preparation and consumption of a meal. After all Turin is not far from Bra, Italy the home of the slow food movement.
As in all of Italy, fresh ingredients are the key to success in cooking a good meal, and that is particularly true in Turin. Herbs are picked from window boxes, vegetables are dug up in backyard gardens and local produce is purchased at fresh food markets.
As in the rest of Italy, anchovies are used in many dishes. The flavor is subtle, so even if you are not normally a fan of anchovies give them a try. Most likely you will be pleasantly surprised by their lack of a fishy flavor.
Bagna Caôda is a traditional start to a meal in Turin. Bagna Caôda is a sauce made of garlic, olive oil, butter, anchovies and occasionally truffles. The sauce is served in a small earthenware pot that is kept hot while it is served. Vegetables are then dipped in the sauce. Let’s face it how can you go wrong with a recipe that has both butter and olive oil. Does the olive oil cancel out the unhealthy aspects of butter?
The Piedmont region of Italy has its own breed of cattle that is used in many of its traditional dishes such as bollito misto. A typical beef stew, bollito misto is usually made with four or more meats. Beef and chicken are staples of the dish as is some type of sausage. These staples are often mixed with other meats that are available. If you are not an adventurous eater, be sure to ask what is included or you may be surprised at what you find. You may find veal tongue or calf’s head in a bolito misto. The stew is served with a green sauce made from parsley, garlic, anchovies, olive oil and other ingredients according to the preference of the cook.
Turin, Italy is perhaps best known for the white truffle, a rare food that is sought by cooks and gourmands around the world. Rare is the person who can afford white truffles as they generally sell for between $2,500 and $3,500 per pound. The white truffle season runs from September through December. During the season many towns around Turin have truffle fairs and auctions where you can often get tastes of regional dishes made with truffles. The fairs are interesting even for those not interested in buying truffles. Truffles tend to infuse all that they touch with their aroma and taste so generally using less is better than using more. Those cooks who think they have every kitchen gadget available should consider buying a truffle shaver.
Tonda Gentile is a local, sweet hazelnut from the area around Turin. The Tonda Gentile is used in everything from curing meats to baking breads. It is common to find these nuts in salads, pastas, deserts and perhaps most commonly in a wide variety of chocolate candies. I never really thought I liked hazelnuts until I started going to Italy – think Nutella.
Of course bread is a staple at every Italian meal. In Turin, you are likely to find Grissini, a long, thin, crispy breadstick served with meals. Grissini are generally served either in little packages which you can sneak into your purse or pocket to munch on later as a snack or standing upright in glasses.
Only a few of Turin, Italy’s delicacies are listed here. Not mentioned are dishes made from the fresh trout caught in the local rivers and streams, the local salami’s, polenta (a yellow corn mash), dishes made with fontina cheese and truffles or risotto dishes made from locally grown rice.
Cheese is eaten at the end of the meal in Italy. The local cheeses produced in the area around Turin, Italy are so special and important that they that are recognized and protected by the Italian government.
One of the best known markets in Turin is Eataly
If you are a foodie, Eataly is a good place to for gourmet shopping in Turin. Or you can go to Eataly in New York or Chicago after you return from your trip to Turin and relive your memories of the good food you enjoyed on your trip. Eataly’s are located all over Italy as well as several places in Japan.
The gourmet items are fresh and fantastic. Whenever and wherever I travel I always try to find a few places where I can pick up the “fixin’s” for a picnic lunch. Nothing is more enjoyable to me than buying bread, cheese and some sides to eat outside while enjoying beautiful scenery or while engaging in some serious people watching. It goes without saying that a bottle of wine is a must.
The Eataly philosophy says it all “La vita é TROPPO BREVE per mangiare MALE”. Life is too short to eat badly.
The video below is in Italian but you can see this food emporium where you can shop, eat and drink:
Learn more about food in Turin
In an area where butter is used as often as olive oil and sauces are served on meats and vegetables as well as pasta’s it is hard to find a bad meal. If you are one of the rare and unfortunate souls who do find that bad meal find a local chocolatier and buy a baci dama or “lady’s kisses”. These wonderful candies made from hazlenut halves and chocolate are famous in Turin, Italy.