Top 10 differences between Anglo-Italian & Authentic Italian food
Renato Pagliari, known for the famous song “Save your love” once said, “You know, there are two kinds of people; Italians and those who want to be Italians”, with that in mind I want to discuss what exactly makes food authentic. Italian ingredients are a staple in England, with pasta being a simple yet delicious choice for any dinner table. However, there are certain “faux pas” that have become commonplace in both the amateur and professional kitchen. Here are the top 10 differences between Anglo-Italian & authentic Italian food.
1. Adding oil to the pasta water
No, no, no! It’s uncertain where this practice came from but the idea behind it is that adding oil to the pasta water will stop it from sticking together, a valid concern. The truth is, all you need is some salt for flavour and to stir occasionally.
2. Sprinkling seafood with cheese
Yes, Italians love cheese, from mascarpone to mozzarella but it’s not an addition you’ll see with seafood dishes. Seafood is something so full of it’s own unique flavour, to overpower it with another flavour as strong as cheese is almost a crime. Although, if you ask for it at a ristorante the waiter will oblige you, but don’t be surprised if they seem puzzled.
3. Chicken and pasta
A combination many around the world have become quite fond of, although delicious, it’s not an Italian tradition. Chicken is a meat that isn’t well known throughout Italian cuisine as a whole, so it goes without saying that the very popular “chicken parm” is not something which originated in Italy itself.
4. Thick crusted “pizza pies”
Italians all over the world are aghast at the thought of a thick pizza, it’s a concept that’s a very far cry from the thin, stone baked, crispy pizze Italians are used to. I could write for hours about my idea of the perfect pizza from the ingredients in the dough down to how it’s cooked and for how long but I’ll spare you. Just know that pizza is a very simple affair in Italy, but don’t confuse simple for boring!
5. Mushy pasta
🙁 I feel that the sad face adequately describes how a person should feel when faced with a plate full of mushy, overcooked pasta. Al-Dente is the only way to eat pasta, it should feel firm to the bite, though not raw of course. Not only does the pasta taste better this way but it’s also better for your blood sugar!
6. Drowning the pasta in sauce
Chances are that if you’re watching what you eat you stay away from pasta as a whole, but what if I told you the rivers of sauce you drown your pasta in makes all the difference. The pasta sauce shouldn’t have you fishing out your pasta with a spoon, not only does it taste just as great but it’ll be lighter on the stomach, healthier and easier to digest. Give it a try!
7. Any pasta goes with any sauce
No! Another topic I could go on and on about but I will save that for another article. I will simply say that the shape of the pasta does indeed matter! For example, if you decide to add tuna to your pasta it would be wise to use a pasta with a sizable ‘hole’ or ‘swirl’ in it, this way you get the full flavour with each bite as the sauce and fish marry in the middle. As opposed to using a spaghetti or tagliatelle and having the fish fall off each strand… As I said I could go on but I’ll save that for an article about what goes best with what (and maybe some recipes as well).
8. Salad Dressing
A salad is a simple thing in Italy, one simply needs fresh ingredients, a dash of olive oil & vinegar. As I said in other articles, the salad is traditionally for the end of the meal, so adding a bunch of heavy dressings is counter intuitive.
9. Eat and run
Although not entirely cuisine related, the two somewhat go hand in hand. Meal time is a thing that should not be rushed for Italians, they don’t eat while walking or “grab a quick bite to eat”. Food is something to be savored and enjoyed with family and friends, something that can last for hours. So needless to say, our tendency to eat quickly and get the meal out of the way is something that doesn’t resonate with Italian cuisine. Take your time and enjoy the food, after all someone put a lot of effort into making it for you!
10. Risotto as a side dish
Although it has been popularised in many a restaurant as a side dish, in Italy the risotto will always be the main event. It’s a starchy and flavourful dish with a decent sized portion, if done correctly and is by no means a side. It’s also worth noting that in some places the pasta is even served as a side, definitely not okay!
So there you have it, the top 10 differences between Anglo-Italian and Authentic Italian food. Hopefully the next time you visit Italy you’ll be a little less shocked when eating out. Keep an eye out for the pasta shapes article coming soon!
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