Italian cuisine (Italian: cucina italiana, IPA: [kuˈtʃiːna itaˈljaːna]) has developed through centuries of social and political changes, with roots as far back as the 4th century BCE. Italian cuisine in itself takes heavy influences, including Etruscan, ancient Greek, ancient Roman, Byzantine, and Jewish.Significant changes occurred with the discovery of the New World with the introduction of items such as 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 extreme 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.Dishes and recipes are often the creation of grandmothers rather than of chefs, which makes many recipes ideally suited for home cooking.
This is one of the main reasons behind the ever increasing popularity of this cuisine, as cooking magazines in foreign countries popularize Italian recipes targeted at the home cook. Ingredients and dishes vary by region. Many dishes that were once regional, however, have proliferated with variations throughout the country.
Cheese and wine are a major part of the cuisine, with many variations and Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) (regulated appellation) laws. Coffee, specifically espresso, has become important in Italian cuisine. There are many Franco-Italians dishes such as Steak Florentine and Chicken Marsala.