Most traditional Italian recipes will vary from one region to another. There are twenty (20) different regions in all and there are provinces within each region which adds up to many different styles and flavors of cooking. This regional variation is what Italy is famous for; it is the local ingredients that give each unique flavor – the spice of life.
Pesto is a great example of how a basic recipe is modified by each region. The basic most famous green pesto comes from the Liguria (northern) area where the fresh basil is crushed into a paste and mixed with olive oil, Parmigiano (cheese) and pine nuts. More currently introduced, the red pesto has sun-dried tomatoes added to the traditional mix in the Cinque Terre area, while the spicy Sicilian variation can contain chilies, cappers, raisins, anchovies, fennel and mint.
The Northern regions’ recipes also tend to use less olive oil, pasta and tomato sauce in favor of more rice, polenta and cheeses for cream sauces. The local recipes seem to express a pride of the unspoiled countryside with the inclusion of local game or wild fowl like rabbit or quail. If it grows well in the area it will likely end up on your plate.
Italian cuisine has two sides, tradition and innovation. Most regional variations take a traditional Italian recipe and add local flavor or develop a new use to create a taste unique to that region. Unlike typical Italian restaurant food found in North America traditional Italian dishes offer much more variety. While you can find the well known offerings of pizza and spaghetti you will find that taking time to sample local recipes worthwhile as it enhances the enjoyment and memories of your experience.
So when considering replicating or creating a traditional Italian recipes in your own kitchen you must take into account the region of Italy that the recipe was developed in and where the ingredients originated. It will still be good but the taste may vary slightly as a result of the chef and the key ingredients.