January 30th, 2014
12:30 AM ET
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One reason Sicilians tend to identify with Sicily first and Italy (a distant) second?

Sicilian food.

The same goes for Veneto in the north or Puglia in the south.

Italy is a young country - it only celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2011.

Despite the successful export of the "Italian restaurant," the idea of a unified Italian cuisine is something many Italians reject.

Instead there are regional dishes, sometimes with tastes as different as you'd find between countries.

Even the basics differ - pasta with or without egg, butter in abundance or ditched completely in favor of olive oil.

Like reading tea leaves, travelers can discover much about a region's history and landscape from its special sauce.

Guaranteed: No mention of spaghetti bolognese.

Abruzzo: Lamb with cheese and eggs
One of Italy's most rugged regions, sheep farming predominates in Abruzzo.

Meat dishes and cheeses here tend to come from that animal.

Agnello cac' e ove (lamb with cheese and eggs) is "traditionally eaten over the Easter period, since the animal must be young and sheep are born in the spring," says Roberto Burdese, president of Slow Food Italia.

The sauce, of course, is made only with sheep's milk cheese.

Basilicata: Làgane with olive oil and chickpeas
Like its southern neighbors, simplicity is the hallmark of Basilicata's cooking.

Away from the coast, you won't often encounter ceci (chickpeas) in northern Italian food.

And the pasta (làgane) will be called tagliatelle or pappardelle, and almost certainly made with egg alongside durum wheat flour and water.

Here, the làgane is tossed with olive oil, sauteed garlic and cooked ceci.

And that's it.

See the rest - Italy's 20 regions, dish by delicious dish

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Filed under: Italian • Italy

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Thinking things through

    Photos 2, 3, and 7 do it for me. And btw, thanks for the breakdown of food regions in Italy!

    February 2, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
  2. JellyBean

    The strudel looks awesome.

    January 30, 2014 at 10:33 am |
  3. AleeD®

    Pic 3 got me thinking about what I'll do for lunch today. Pic 5 got me salivating and wanting to move to Italy. Thanks for the slide show.

    January 30, 2014 at 7:57 am |
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