The essence of Italian cooking today is simplicity. One uses the freshest seasonal ingredients possible, and then uses basic cooking techniques to simply enhance the natural flavor of the food. While living in Italy, I spent many hours each week browsing through the market stands overflowing with the vibrant colors of each season's bounty. I learned to keep "an Italian kitchen" during this period, and to plan my daily menu only after visiting the local market or grocery to see what was fresh that day. Although I am now living in North America half the year, I often continue this tradition of visiting my local green grocer looking for inspiration for that day's dinner.