Italian Food

Old Mar 8th, 2007, 11:27 AM
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Italian Food

I just read through a fellow Fodorite post on Italian food but had a related question myself.

My impression - and to be frank this coming May will be my first trip to Italy so this is secondhand information- was that "Americanized" Italian food was drenched in cheese/red sauces, however authentic Italian food was more fresh ingredients, not as much sauce, definitely not dripping in cheese, etc.

Is this accurate? I'm now curious....
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Old Mar 8th, 2007, 11:32 AM
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Genuine Italian food is less full of fat, more dependent on fresh produce/meats/fish and smaller in portion size than the food served in many "Italian" restaurants.You won't see a high proportion of overweight Italians in Italy.
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Old Mar 8th, 2007, 11:37 AM
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Food in Italy is also served in smaller portions, but more plates. One after another. It's easy to control the amount you eat. Few leftovers. Also, if the place you have picked to eat turns out just so-so after the antipasto, you can pay and move on to the next one.
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Old Mar 8th, 2007, 11:38 AM
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Accurate indeed jodeenyc..and won't you have fun discovering true Italian food when you are in Italy in May!!
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Old Mar 8th, 2007, 11:41 AM
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Also Italian food is very regional, so you may find more of one type of ingredient or treatment in the north and a very different type in the south.
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Old Mar 8th, 2007, 12:00 PM
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once you see how different the Italian pizza is from "American" ,it will be clear.
Old Mar 8th, 2007, 12:57 PM
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An English friend living in New York never tires of telling me.

"For Americans cheese (if you can call American cheese cheese) is a topping"

Not so elsewhere in the world, where cheese can be an entire course at the end of a meal, not grated, sprinkled or melted over something, but a thing in itself.

Talking of which, why do Americans call the main course an entrée, when entrée means starter?
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Old Mar 10th, 2007, 02:07 PM
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Having made every mistake in the book, and then some...I once ordered a pepporoni pizza, only to find peppers, not meat.

Depending on the area, food can be heavy or light. Some of the best food in Italy comes from The Emellia-Rogmana area (near Bologne - Modena), or so the Italians say. The food is generally lighter and just plain yummy.

I was there twice last year and the emphasis on zucca (squash) and zucca blossoms was wonderful to taste.
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Old Mar 10th, 2007, 04:58 PM
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You're correct. Portions are smaller, pastas are lightly sauced - not drenched as in the US - and cheese is used sparingly. And vegetables/salads are much more popular - salads usually as a separate course and veggies often ordered as a shared side dish.
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Old Mar 10th, 2007, 05:19 PM
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Let me second the comment that pastas have much less sauce than in the U.S. They are delicious, but the pasta will not be swimming in a red or white sauce. In fact, I wouldn't even call most northern Italian sauces "white" at all, because they're the color of the ingredients. Last year, when we were having dinner one night in Rome, I hear the American woman at the table next to us order spaghetti cacio e pepe, which is a simple, traditional Roman pasta (which I had eaten at lunch) that's made with cacio, a mild, soft, white cheese that's similar to fresh pecorino, and pepper. The cheese (as I learned later, from looking up recipes and making it at home) is grated, then stirred into the just-cooked, warm pasta, along with a little bit of the cooking water, so the cheese melts into the pasta. There is no sauce at all, just the cheese-coated (barely) pasta and the pepper. The woman was served her pasta, and I heard her say a few minutes later, "this is good, but I think they forgot the cheese." I debated then, and still wonder if I did the right thing, on whether to admit that I'd heard her and explain that the cheese really was there!

As the story illustrates and other have posted, less cheese. Traditionally, cheese as a topping is not served with a pasta that has seafood (and maybe fish, too, I don't remember). If you ask for it, I'm sure they will bring you some, but it's not customary. It brings a smile to my face when I'm at an American-Italian restaurant in the U.S., and they offer to grate cheese over my pasta. As I recall, that's not so often done in Italy!

And I love the way the Italians cook spinach, and love artichokes as well, so much, that I never share my spinach or artichokes with anybody, though it is common to share vegetable dishes.
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Old Mar 11th, 2007, 07:08 AM
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>..why do Americans call the main course an entrée, when entrée means starter?<

Why do the Brits call a car trunk a boot, when a boot is something you wear on your foot?

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Old Mar 11th, 2007, 07:48 AM
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Waring... most of us here in the US do not call the main course an entree. We call it a main course. Entree was a term used by US upscale restaurants back when most of these were French...or "continental," another term no longer used much.
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