Food, Wine, Travel Magazine, Winter 2020

Page 56

Italian Cuisine— Five Myths You Need to Stop Believing

For the


of Pasta By Christine Cutler

ecause I’m Italian, most of my friends a s s u m e I w a n t t o g o t o It a l i a n restaurants when we go out for lunch or dinner. Truth be told, I don’t. Most Italian restaurants in the US cook an Americanized version of Italian food, and few Italians would recognize the over-sized, over-cooked, over-spiced, over-sauced plates served in American restaurants.


Still, Ameritalian food is popular in the States. More than 85 percent of Americans list Italian cuisine as their favorite, and they consume an average of 26 pounds of pasta per capita annually. (That’s bush league when you consider that Italians average between 50 and 60 pounds per person per year.) What most Americans do not realize is that there is no real Italian cuisine. If you are still reading this, you might be thinking, What does she mean there is no real Italian cuisine? What about spaghetti and meatballs? Nope. Garlic bread? Sorry.. Fettuccine Alfredo? No way. Spaghetti bolognese? Heaven’s no. PEPPERONI PIZZA? I hate to burst your bubble, but no.

A Little History What it comes down to is that some Americans, even some of Italian descent, don’t understand how the history of the country—and later the role of immigrants—affected the evolution of Italian cuisine. I don’t want to bore you, but consider that until 1871, the Italian peninsula was a conglomeration of independent city states, and


Photos (top to bottom): Paccheri with eggplant, zucchini, & tomato; Rigatoni caccio e pepe; Fresh Pasta alla chitarra; Fresh tortellini