Italian food stereotypes, no grazie!
It’s only when I left Italy – where I was born and lived for 23 years – that I really realized how the world see us.
As in most countries in the world, population and culture are different in different regions, and I truly believe the place where you grow up shapes you and the person you are going to be. However, I believe that if you are Italian (born and grew up in Italy), there is a part of you that you will always share, not just with the Italian population, but with your country – meaning the geographical region, with that sun, that sea, that smell, that food.
My husband told me more than once that he cannot wait to go to Italy to understand how a tomato tastes like. Because I can tell you right now, here in Canada I have never had the privilege to eat fruits and veggies with the same flavour. After all, we are not in Italy, and things – good or bad – cannot be the same.
In North America, for example, it’s so easy to see the word “Italian” associated to any food, and I get so upset sometimes because to me it just looks like a trend, nothing more.
I have to say I do not believe Italian food is the best in the world, and I’m glad I’m now able to learn and try so many different styles of cooking. But it really hurts when people pretend to know what Italian is, when the reality is they sell food we don’t even have in Italy!
So I hope to help all of you, at least to understand a little better. You can enjoy your food even if it’s not Italian, so why calling Italian something that is not?
If you are opening a restaurant and you want to give it an Italian name, please have good sense and open a dictionary to check the spelling. Same thing for your menu.
While I totally understand pronunciation mistakes – hey, English is not my first language either, and I do make a lot of mistakes – I find very sad spelling mistakes in a business name or in a restaurant menu that calls itself “Italian”, even worse if “authentic Italian”.
There is no such a thing as “LINGUINI” (linguine) “SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE” or “BOLOGNA PASTA” (spaghetti/pasta alla bolognese), “GNOCCHI PASTA” (gnocchi), “FETTUCINE” (fettuccine), “SALAMI” which is salame, and “PANINI” which is panino.
While pizza – beside the classics margherita, quattro stagioni, quattro formaggi, bianca, marinara, prosciutto, calzone – can have different names often given by the owner or the chief (pizzaiolo), names for pasta dishes are very important. So, if you decide to have you menu in Italian, please check the spelling! A missing “C” or “I” instead of “E” can make a big difference and change the meaning of the word!
Also: you can put in your pizza anything you like, even “pepperoni” or pineapple, but if somebody is selling you something like that in an Italian restaurant….well, be aware we do not have anything like it in Italy.
We do not have:
- Alfredo sauce in Italy!!!! That is NOT Italian!
- Pollo parmigiana, or even worst “parmegiana”
- Pesto is a sauce for pasta, and it’s not suppose to go anywhere else. So if you read the word “pesto” with “pollo” or “pizza”…well, enjoy, but you are not having Italian food.
- By the way, we do not put chicken in the pizza.
- “Quattro stagioni” is a kind of pizza, and not pasta
- It’s not “spaghetti sauce” but “tomato sauce”
- We do not have “pasta primavera”
And please, PLEASE, that is not mozzarella!!!!!
Just for fun I wrote the word “Italian” in a grocery website, and I got more than a hundred items. I’m just going to mention the most common:
- Italian spices or Seasoning… not Italian,
- Italian wedding soup….what???
- Italian dressing… I had to read this (Water, soybean oil, white vinegar, sugar, salt, dehydrated garlic, dehydrated onion, concentrated lemon juice, spices, xanthan gum, dehydrated red bell pepper, flavour, calcium disodium edta, oleorsin of paprika, soya lecithin, citric acid..) NO!
- Noodles Italian Soup… ok, another thing: the words “noodles” and “Italian” should never be in the same sentence!
- Crustini…did you mean crostini?
Here we are my friends, ready to sit around the table and share a wonderful meal. It doesn’t matter which country it’s from, as long as we enjoy it. I guess it’s like when you are looking for love, you may like blonds better, and then you marry a brunette!
And as you would never call you wife with another name (do not do that!) let’s call Italian only what is pertaining to or characteristic of Italy or its people or culture.
Italian food stereotype, no grazie!©
If you enjoyed this post you may want to read:
Tired to fake Italian
Trendy coffee with an Italian accent
Here your espresso Sir! (Made in Italy)
Cappuccino, sweet pleasure for breakfast only
and Italy for dimmies