The Cuisine of Lombardy

While Italian cuisine is generally associated with pastas and rich, heavy foods, each region of Italy--including the central-northern region of Lombardy--is distinct in its "staple" foods and quintessential dishes. The Lombardy region is best known for its dairy products, including the region's world-famous gorgonzola cheese. The other famous cheeses of the region include the creamy mascarpone (used in the popular Italian dessert tiramisu), Robiola, Bel Paese; Taleggio. Like the regional cheeses of France with official AOC labels that prevent these types of cheese from being named and/or produced elsewhere, the aforementioned cheeses of Lombardy are region-specific, and "imitation: versions produced in the US or elsewhere are immediately detected in taste and texture by cheese connoisseurs.

Additionally, rather than pasta being the main staple base of entrees, Lombardy cuisine consists primarily of rice as the foundation of hearty dishes. Risotto, an Italian rice dish, originated a a typical Milanese dish (Milan is the major city of the Lombard region), and has gained international recognition as a main entree across a wide variety of menus outside of the Italian gastronomical scope.

While Lombardy is not a coastal region and seafood does not contribute as heavily to Lombard cuisine as fish and shellfish do in southern Italy, fish is still a key part of the Lombard diet. Woven with many rivers and streams, and populated with lakes, Lombardy is homes to large populations of pike, carp, tench, sturgeon and freshwater eels, which frequently attribute to the Lombard diet. Pork is also a keyplayer in Lombard cuisine, and the Lombard town or Varzi is famous in Italy for its salame. The Lombard town of Monza is known for its pork sausage.