A lot of fake myths about Italy are overspread all over the world.
Some food habits are believed to be typically Italian, but actually they aren’t; they may concern Italian food but here they are wholly unknown.
I am going to tell you about what actually happens in our “Bel Paese”, so you won’t be cheated!
I don’t think Italian food is much better than other countries’ food, but it is definitely toothsome, natural, simple, and healthy.
A few ingredients make exceptional dishes- they make the differences. Local dishes have a stronger, better taste if they are eaten in their birth please. History, landscapes, friendly and “noisy” people, easy-going rustic life-style might be the joint cause of the overwhelming success of the Italian food.
So, let’s debunk a few myths. Keep it simple, this is the main point!
- We are fond of abundance, but not in the seasonings.
In Italy, we are “a lot”, we are “too much”, but when we eat, we like simple tastes without sauces.
When I go to the Us, I always taste local food, and the first difference I can underline is the seasoning. In the Us they are richer, more abundant, more flavorful, sometimes too much! I mean: pasta should be seasoned with tomato sauce; it is not the contrary: the sauce which contains pasta! We like tomato sauce, of course but in the right quantity…and we like mopping our plates with a little bread, even if Galateo says we must not do it…it is not good-manners!
- Having coffee all they long: it is not for us!
We live in the homeland of the coffee, but we don’t get around with a cup of coffee all they long. We have it after the main meals, sitting by the table, or standing at the bar counter. We don’t walk and drink, we are focused on where we are going (you know, Italian streets are quite old…and creeping).
- Plenty of garlic and spices: we like simple tastes
Garlic is one of the main ingredients of our recipes, but it is never intrusive, save a few local traditional recipes. Simple and natural tastes are safeguarded in a mix where none prevails on the others. Eating is a sensorial journey. Green light to garlic and spices …moderately!
The butter? Although it is so tasty, we are afraid of using it because it is believe to be bad for our arteries. We have little butter “hidden” in some dishes (we use plenty of oil), but we never take it to our tables: it could be life-threatening for someone!
- Season pasta with meatballs: it is toothsome, but not Italian.
pasta with meatballs is appetizing but it is not something you may find in Italy. They are two Italian separate dishes- first we have pasta, then meatballs with the sides.
- We eat in the same plate: not at all, we like using several plates!
You won’t encounter a “main course”, unless you have a farmer soup with cereals, grains and vegetables, or a rich mixed salad. We usually have different courses each one in its own plate, not to mix the tastes. We have pasta in a soup plate and meat with vegetable in bigger one.
We hardly ever use disposable plate, or cutlery: we do the washing up, or use the dishwasher. Often we inherit nice tableware from our grannies and mums.
- Oil, salt, and vinegar on the table to season our dishes
A big different between Italy and the other countries: here, you won’t encounter any sauces (mayo, ketchup, or barbecue,…) on the restaurant tables; only oil, salt, and pepper (and a few toothpicks).
Seasoned dishes can be “adjusted” with salt and pepper to taste (make sure the cook isn’t watching!).
Grated Parmigino cheese is only taken to the table when you order some pasta in a specific container called cheese bowl. You can’t add it to other courses!
- We don’t season our dishes with cheese!
Yep, the cheese! We sprinkle little grated Parmigiano only on pasta. We never season food with cheese, unless the recipe wants it! Our food is seldom cheesy, that’s why it is super tasty but not to rich in calories.
- We eat a lot, but we usually have moderate serving
We eat a lot of different dishes in moderate servings; we don’t often eat a big amount of the same food. A typical lunch is composed of a little pasta, some meat or fish (so proteins), a side plate, and, sometimes, bread and fruit. Very varied? Yes, you are right, but the servings are moderate. We don’t always have complete lunches, during the week, we have lighter and faster meals.
Servings are quite small, for instance:
60-80g of pasta for the women, 80-100g for the men;
100g of meat for the women, 150g for the men;
80g of lettuce for the women, 100g for the men;
1-2 spoons of extra virgin olive olive oil to season.
About 50-70g of bread
1 medium fruit about 150g
A lot of things, but not too many calories.
- We eat only seasonal products!
We normally have products according to our seasons-so if something is not seasonal, we don’t buy it. Of course, the supermarkets provide us with every kinds of products all the year long but we are not fond of first fruits. We are suspicious of strawberries at Christmas (we eat them in May, only). We don’t buy cucumbers in the winter, we have them in our summer salads. And we only eat Panettone at Christmas.
We are like this: we wait for the right food at the right moment of the year; year after year.
- Italian food makes you get fat: it depends!
It mainly depends on the servings, on the extra seasoning, and on the extra snacks. The Sunday lunch is usually quite big, but during the week we have lighter meals.
We have cakes at the weekend, or when we want to celebrate something special; it not an every day treat.
So, moderation is the key word. And keep in mind-Italian food comes to the table directly “from the farm”: it is fresh, natural, organic. It is tasty on its own and it does not any much seasoning.