Italian Food Myths

There are many misconceptions that surround Italy’s customs, and food. Lets take a look at some of the most common Italian food myths.

Lets first begin with Italian dressing. There is no such thing in Italy. In fact, Italians do not use any type of bottled or pre-made dressing on their salads. A simple coating of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, a little bit of salt and pepper is all that is used to top salads. When ordering salad out at a restaurant in Italy, you will be supplied with an oil and vinegar set to dress the greens yourself.

The next Italian food myth deals with pasta sauces. Heavy, cream based sauces are not terribly common. More common sauces are vegetable based, fish based, and even combine eggs and cheese such as you would find in Pasta alla Carbonara. Liquors such as cognac and wine are also added to fresh ingredients, as are smoked meats.

The idea that Italy consumes vast quantities of meat is another Italian food myth. There are a few exceptions, however most Italians do not enjoy a great deal of meat. Plain meats, such as a grilled steak, are rarely consumed. When meat dishes are prepared, they tend to combine lots of flavors and vegetables. Popular meat dishes include: Abbacchio al forno con patata, roast lamb with poatoes; grigliata mista, mixed grilled meats (such as pigeon, sausage, beef, or chicken); osso bucco, a braised stew dose with hearty vegetables.

Vegetables are not just deep fried or smothered in sauces in Italy. Most fresh vegetables are simply prepared by sautéing in a bit of olive oil, garlic, and salt. Many times, vegetables are added to pasta and meat dishes to bulk up the dose without adding extra fat.

The final Italian food myth is that Italians only drink two types of coffee, with no variation. This is not true at all. There are two main types of coffee consumed in Italy (espresso and cappuccino) but there are several variations. Italians prefer very strong coffee, which is served at a drinkable temperature, not scalding hot like Americans consume. Cappuccino is basically the same in Italy as it is in other parts of the world. It can be made “scuro” which is dark with very little milk, “senza schiuma” which is with no froth, or “chiaro” which is light with lots of milk. Espresso can be customized as well and is available in the following ways: “macchiato”, which has milk added; “Al vetro”, which is served in a glass rather than a cup; “lungo”, which has more water added; “regolare”, which is regular, or a normal espresso; and “ristretto”, which is extremely strong and concentrated.

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