EAT LIKE AN ITALIAN 1/2
Italians are notorious for their love of food!
Food, for the standard Italian, is an everlasting love story (probably one that always guarantees success) and it is no secret that any excuse will do, for the chance to sit around that well-worn dining table, bursting with delectable scents and flavors, and spend time with loved ones.
So, now that we have established what food emblematizes to us Italians, let us concentrate on the somewhat sacred ritual ‘della tavola’ or ‘the meal’; a moment of pure unadulterated gastronomic delight and a time to get together around the table!
So without further ado, let’s have a look at some practical tips and suggestions that will have you eating like an Italian in no time!
(The following are some do’s and don’ts you should be aware of, to make a good impression at the dining table, the Italian way!)
First and foremost, (and most of us Italians would consider it a moral duty to mention this), is the one detail that gives away the non-Italian in the room; that of slurping up spaghetti with the use of a spoon.
Oh! The sheer pain this sight conjures up in our Italian minds is too much to put into words! Eating spaghetti with a spoon is probably illegal somewhere in the Italian constitution.
Essentially, spaghetti and other types of long pasta are to be eaten with a fork and a fork only and there are no exceptions to the rule as yet! Needless to say, even the use of knives is frowned upon when eating long pasta, so, if your rolling skills leave much to be desired, a little practice goes a long way, and rest assured, it will soon become second nature!
Another prevailing myth to abolish right here and now is probably that of the celebrated Pasta Alfredo, an Italian pasta dish. I am afraid to say, no trace of a Pasta Alfredo has ever been found on an Italian menu (and one should most certainly refrain from endorsing it in front of an Italian audience).
And, while it is indeed true that the infamous pasta dish “Fettuccine Alfredo” originated in Rome, back in 1908, it is not quite the famed version we come across nowadays.
The culprit in question is Alfredo di Lelio, who, in his desire to make something different to encourage his inappetent wife to eat, came up with the cream-based sauce, meant specifically to be mixed with fettuccine pasta.
It is safe to say that what remains of this pasta recipe is blasphemy to Italian ears.
Bread and Pasta dilemmas!
Now let us move on to our dearly beloved match made in heaven, that of bread and pasta, undeniably two main pillars of Italian cuisine.
If there is one thing that gives great satisfaction at the table, it is without a shadow of a doubt “la scarpetta”, the scooping up of leftover sauce with a piece of bread and which, unfortunately, bon ton strictly forbids us to indulge in. Good etiquette prohibits bread (a starch) to be eaten with pasta, (another starch).
Nonetheless, the question essentially comes down to where it is you are consuming the meal. If you are in a rustic trattoria “fare la scarpetta” is sometimes encouraged, owever, if you are at a fancy restaurant, then think twice before swiping away at your plate. And when in doubt, always stick to the basic rules of etiquette; you will never go wrong!
Another popular combination that sometimes seems to leave non-Italians a bit perplexed is the unison of seafood with cheese. Adding grated cheese such as parmesan to seafood pasta dishes such as spaghetti vongole (spaghetti with clams) or risotto allo scoglio (mixed seafood risotto) is a big no-go but one which unfortunately we see happen over and over again!
Of course, as with just about every rule in the book, exceptions can be made in some cases
And now for pizza, mamma mia what music to our ears!
Pizza is probably the most versatile, adaptable food of all time, able to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters and we, Italians, are proud to call it our own! That is, as long as you keep the pineapple away…
Pizza is an everyday food, casual and informal, a perfect example that less is more and a simple reminder that basic honest flavors rise above everything else, every time. On a side note, if you are opting for a spicier version with hot salami, do not forget to ask for pizza alla diavola and not pepperoni! Many places in Italy would most probably confuse it with the vegetarian version of hot spicy peppers!
For the moment we stop here, but we still have many other tips for you…..to be continued.