Significant changes occurred with the discovery of the New World and the introduction of potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers and maize, now central to the cuisine but not introduced in quantity until the 18th century.Italian cuisine is noted for its regional diversity, abundance of difference in taste, and is known to be one of the most popular in the world, with influences abroad.
Italian cuisine is characterized by its simplicity, with many dishes having only four to eight ingredients. Italian cooks rely chiefly on the quality of the ingredients rather than on elaborate preparation. Ingredients and dishes vary by region. Many dishes that were once regional, however, have proliferated with variations throughout the country.
In 2013 Italian cuisine was ranked by CNN as the best cuisine in the world.
Cassata, a cake containing different nuts, raisins, ricotta, different candied fruits. Cannoli, rich Sicilian pastries.
Sicily shows traces of all the cultures which established themselves on the island over the last two millennia. Although its cuisine undoubtably has a predominantly Italian base, Sicilian food also has Spanish, Greek and Arab influences. The ancient Romans introduced lavish dishes based on goose.
The Byzantines favored sweet and sour flavors and the Arabs brought sugar, citrus, rice, spinach, and saffron. The Normans and Hohenstaufens had a fondness for meat dishes.
The Spanish introduced items from the New World including chocolate, maize, turkey and tomatoes. Much of the island's cuisine encourages the use of fresh vegetables such as eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes, and fish such as tuna, sea bream, sea bass, cuttlefish, and swordfish. In Trapani, in the extreme western corner of the island, North African influences are clear in the use of various couscous based dishes, usually combined with fish.
Traditional specialties from Sicily include arancini (a form of deep-fried rice croquettes), pasta alla Norma, caponata, pani ca meusa, and a host of desserts and sweets such as cannoli, granita, and cassata).
Cheese are a major part of the cuisine, Coffee, specifically espresso, has become important in Italian cuisine.