Many of us can no longer imagine going to a cafe without ordering a creamy Carbonara or a searing Pepperoni pizza. But in reality, these dishes have very little to do with authentic Italian cuisine. And by the way, the habit to finish any meal with a cup of cappuccino people in Rome and Milan sincerely consider as a sign of bad taste.
We were curious about what myths related to Italian cuisine are firmly rooted in our heads. And from the bonus, you’ll learn about the unwritten law of clean plates.
“Carbonara” is served with cream only
We’re used to this pasta being brought to us in a puddle of cream. But in Italy, we’ve never even heard of this way of serving it. The traditional “Carbonara” is made with an egg and bacon. Parmesan is not mentioned in the original recipe either. But the locals advise sprinkling the dish with a pinch of pecorino, a hard cheese made of sheep’s milk.
You can wash your food down with tea
During the main meal, a glass of water may be placed nearby. The only exception is for pizza: sodas are allowed along with it. Of course, you won’t be refused a request to bring tea with pasta or a cappuccino with steak, but be prepared for the obvious disappointment on the waiter’s face.
Pepperoni is pizza with sausage
The word peperoni in Italian means “bell peppers.” So if you ask for a pepperoni, you will most likely be served a pizza with sweet peppers. It is best to order “Pizza alla diavola” – and it will be familiar to you flatbread with spicy sausage. And another tip from the Italians: the best pizzerias are open only in the evenings, because they cook on wood-burning ovens, which takes a long time to heat up.
One pizza can feed an entire company
It is not customary in local cafes to say, “We’ll order one dish for three.” Each person at the table must have their own pizza. The only exception, perhaps, is for small children, who can snatch slices from their parents’ plates. So, if you feel like you’re not too hungry and you’re only going to eat one slice of pizza, it’s better to buy it takeout and pay only for the weight.
You can’t spoil fish with cheese
We think grated parmesan goes well with pasta. But pasta with seafood is an entirely different case. Experts of Italian cuisine believe that the cheese completely overpowers the delicate taste of fish and shrimp.
Bread is made for dipping it in butter
In Italian restaurants, a basket of bread is often placed on the table before the first course is even brought to you. Except that it is not customary to dip it in olive oil. It is believed that hungry guests can simply snack on the bread while waiting for the meal, or a little later make a small sandwich with prosciutto or other smoked meats. And at the end of the meal, a piece of bread can become a “scarpetta” (“little slipper”) with which to collect the remains of the delicious sauce from their plate.
Pasta is a side dish. It tastes twice as good with ketchup
Probably the thing Italians resent the most is the use of ketchup with pasta. Experienced chefs consider this combination a “real culinary sin”. Besides, you should always remember that pasta is a dish in itself, and you should not order it as a side dish to meatballs or steak.
You can drink cappuccino whenever you want
Locals believe that such coffee should be ordered only for breakfast, because milk is a product that is difficult and long to digest. Instead of a cappuccino, you can ask the waiter for an espresso or a macchiato coffee (with a tiny drop of milk) in the afternoon and evening.
Nothing tastier than eggs for breakfast has ever been invented
Yes, eggs can often be found on buffets in Italian hotels. But the locals themselves will never eat them for breakfast: for them, it’s too filling and heavy for a morning meal. Italians usually limit themselves to a cup of coffee with a sweet pastry or a slice of bread with jam.
Every salad needs a different sauce
One of the most common italian cuisine myths. You shouldn’t expect complex sauces and gravies here, because they simply don’t exist. Instead, they suggest dressing your salad withyolive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a pinch of salt to taste. The thing is, chefs don’t like to overpower the real flavor of the ingredients.
The clean plate rule
If you find yourself visiting your Italian acquaintances, remember that they are likely to be looking to see if you have eaten everything from your plate. If you leave the food out, you’ll offend someone who cooked it with care and dedication. But there is a downside: if you eat everything too quickly, be prepared for the fact that you will immediately put more. So take your time and enjoy your meal.
Would you be able to eat an authentic Italian Carbonara? Or would you prefer pasta adapted to our tastes?