Rome may be Italy's political capital, but Milan is the country's industrial, financial, and fashion capital, home to the Italian Stock Exchange and the head offices of many of Italy's largest companies, including Pirelli and Alfa Romeo.
Some would also argue that it's Italy's cultural capital; it's also home to the world-famous La Scala opera house, which may be known for its opera performances but also has a superb orchestra and a very fine ballet company, and to the Piccolo Teatro di Milano, one of Italy's most important modern theaters.
Nor is Milanese culture limited to the stage -- most of the major Italian newspaper, magazine, and book publishers are based in Milan, and the city also hosts the major Italian fashion houses and shows. In short, Milan is a dynamic city that is to Italy what New York City is to the U.S.A.
And like New York, Milan is a modern culinary hotbed, attracting much of the best talent from throughout the Peninsula and beyond. This is very good for both out-of-town visitors and for Milanese residents with a taste for the exotic and innovative.
Milan is less known for traditional cuisine, which gets taken for granted by those eagerly bent upon seeking out the latest delicacy or the newest chef. To be frank, these people are missing out; though there is something exciting about an unexpected juxtaposition or an unusual presentation, traditional Milanese dishes are extraordinarily satisfying, inviting one to gather round the table with friends and spend some time together. In short, comfort food of the finest sort.
Some traditional Milanese recipes:
- Risotto alla Milanese
One of the symbols of Milan: a delicious, creamy golden risotto made with saffron.
- Pan-Fried Milanese Risotto
A quick and simple way to cook leftover Milanese-Style Risotto.
- Milanese-Style Veal Cutlets (La cotoletta alla milanese)
A breaded veal cutlet is simple, but can reach great heights.
- A Milanese dish made with veal cutlets (or scaloppini) & prosciutto in a zesty lemon-and-parsely sauce.
- Ossobuco, Stewed Veal Shanks in Meat Sauce
A classic dish traditionally served with creamy polenta.
- Artusi's Cotoletta alla Milanese
A tasty variation on the classic Milanese-style veal cutlet, from Pellegrino Artusi.
- Chilled Veal in Tuna-Caper Sauce (Vitello tonnato)
A classic summer dish, and an indispensable part of the August 15 Assumption Day feast in Milan.
- Pappardelle Pasta in Wild Mushroom Sauce (Pappardelle alla boscaiola)
Thick ribbons of fresh pasta noodles in a rich, satisfying wild mushroom sauce.
- Milanese-Style Minestrone
A refreshing spring minestrone with green peas, zucchini, and many other vegetables.
- Meat-Filled Milanese Ravioli
Simple Milanese ravioli with a meat-based filling.
A rich, satisfying Milanese pork and cabbage stew.
- Milanese Tripe Soup Busecca)
Don't knock it until you've tried it; this rich, bean-filled soup is winter comfort food at its finest.
Milan's classic Christmas Cake
[Edited by Danette St. Onge]