Right after the end of WWII, a strong migration started in Italy, both from the South to the wealthy North, and from the countryside to the big metropolises (especially Milan and Turin). Italy was a quite new political entity at that time, the reunification had occurred just 100 years earlier. The two sides of Italy didn’t know each other very well, so thanks to the migration, the North got finally in touch not only with the people, but also with the food from the South. Some ingredients and local produces from Campania or Sicily must have seemed almost exotic to the people from Milan or Turin. Many long-time residents must have tasted pizza for the first time, or durum wheat pasta. This is also when olive oil started to be part of the Italian kitchen.
The downside of this migration was that the countryside had fewer and fewer people to carry on the tradition. As a result regional cuisine suffered a hard blow, but it managed to survive, thanks to the fact that agriculture remained alive, although no longer the base of the economy. Also many Italians wanted to escape from modernity and the fascination of the Anglo-American lifestyle that was affirming itself, by going back to the traditions. Many restaurants opened, a wave that started from the North and expanded southwards, which offered traditional regional cuisine, a nice shelter from the “blessings of modernity.”
More recently, traditional cuisine (cucina casalinga in Italian, where the second term actually means homemade, made in the house) is trendy again, also thanks to many celeb-chefs, who have started a quest for the most authentic food. This further helped the restaurant business, and many more restaurants offering Italian regional cuisine opened.
If you are (or have started to be right now) curious about all the aspects of Italian food, why not start from a chicken cacciatora recipe and finish with a nice cup of Italian coffee?