Venetian cookery has many flavours and ingredients, whose common ground lies between water, earth and sky. Indeed, the raw materials of its culinary specialities come from these elements: fishes and shellfishes from the sea and rivers; vegetables, maize and meat from the earth; game from the sky. Without mentioning that the Serenissima Republic spread the food customs and traditions of the countries it had business relationships with to the other Italian regions. For example, spices turned Venetian cookery from a rather poor one into a more tasty and refined cuisine.
Preserved food: from necessity to delicacy
Being skilled seafarers and explorers, besides, Venetians had to learn how to preserve food, so that it could last for months, during their long sea voyages. From this point of view, the most frequently found foods – still part of the Venetian diet – were baccalà, from the Baltic Sea, maize and potatoes from America, tomatoes, bell peppers, aubergines and turkey from the routes in the South Mediterranean Sea. Rice, too, became very popular in the Venetian cuisine: originated in the Arab world, it soon turned into a Venetian forte. The oldest and most famous Venetian soup is indeed called risi e bisi (“rice and peas”), a dish the Doge had to eat on Saint Mark’s Day, following a strict protocol. On the other hand, one of the most classic and best known main courses is the renown Venetian-style liver, characterised by a sweet thickness, provided by the cooking of onions.
Fish, the strong point of Venetian cookery
The leading role in Venetian cuisine, though, is played by fresh fish and sea food, sold every day at the local markets. What’s amazing, though, is that, despite its variety and quality, Venetians often use dried cod, with which they create many delicious dishes. This cooking habit had its origin it the Council of Trent’s order not to eat meat at certain times of the year. This, together with the difficulty of finding always fresh fish, made baccalà a very popular food alternative.
The influences from Central Europe
Venetian cookery, though, contributed to the spread of innovations coming from Central Europe, mainly from France, as well. For example, the introduction of sugar transformed and innovated Venetian pastry making.
Spritz: a global Venetian brand
Finally, we simply must mention a drink which could accompany each and every one of the delicacies we’ve been talking about so far: spritz. It’s the protagonist of the typical local happy hour, the perfect example of the “Venetian way of life” and it is known all over the world.