This post will stun you with eight truths about Italian cuisine in the world. After reading this, don’t blame us if you wind up questioning the veracity of most things in life!
Remember those moments in your favorite movies and books when a key character reveals a truth that basically floors you? Most epic movies have insane twists that turn the story on its head completely!
The “I am a wizard?” moment from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Or consider the “welcome to the real world” revelation by Morpheus in The Matrix.
That scene from The Sixth Sense when Bruce Willis’ character finds out he’s a ghost!
Now, you might be an Italian food aficionado with intricate know-how. Maybe you think you know your pizza, Parmesan and white wine, blind-folded. But wait till you dive into Italian culture and history- nothing is quite like it seems!
1. Pizza is not traditional Italian food!!
What! Arnold Schwarzenegger may have never been the Terminator as well, right?
Turns out, there are a lot of things that are more Italian than pizza. Pizzas, as we know them, didn’t even exist before the 18th century. At that time, it was little more than a Neapolitan snack (belonging to the region of Naples).
It was only during the unification of Italy in the 19th century that pizza attained national food status! Until the late 19th century, pizzas were made sweet and not savory as we have them today! Immigrants to the US then made the flatbread popular in the West.
- Italians were not into tomatoes until about 300 years ago.
Yes, you may retract your jaw now. This iconic ingredient was imported from South America to Europe in the 1500s. Tomatoes made it to Italy only in 1548. Even then, they were considered ornamental plants and were believed to be highly poisonous!
Obviously, in the years that passed someone, somewhere, took a daring bite and changed gastronomical history forever. Grazie, anonymous risk-taker!
- Cappuccinos and Lattes are not post-meal drinks.
Try drinking a cappuccino after a meal in Italy! Don’t worry- no one will stone you, but they will know you’re either weird or not Italiano.
You see, cappuccinos are exclusively a morning drink. Italians believe drinks which contain hot milk can cause indigestion. If you really want to have a coffee after a meal, you are looking for one of those punch-packing espressos! And oh, remember that ordering a latte would mean that you’re basically asking for milk. What you’re looking for is caffellatte.
- Fettuccine Alfredo is not even authentic Italian.
This might leave you racking your brains- allow us to explain.
This pasta cannot be called authentic Italian food. It was the brain-child of a chef named Alfredo in Rome, who came up with this neutral, cheese-and-butter version for his pregnant wife who was fighting off nausea. After he put it up on the menu, Fettuccine Alfredo became popular with silent film stars like Mary Pickford. While you can find Fettuccine Alfredo in some eating joints in Rome, you’re likely to draw blank looks with “Alfredo” elsewhere in Italy.
- Thick-crust pizzas are not authentic Italian either
Thanks to too many American cooks fiddling with the recipe, most pizzas made in the US (and almost anywhere with US influence, for that matter) do not match up to their Italian equivalent. Part of the difference arises from the fact that genuine Italian pizzas almost always have thin crusts.
Thin crusts are now being popularized by chains like Pizza Hut, Papa Johns, Little Caesars and others, but the fact remains – most of us would not think of thin-crusted pizzas as authentic, whereas true-blooded Italians would probably scoff at our cheese-burst crusts.
- So you think you’ve tasted Balsamic Vinegar?
You must have used Balsamic vinegar, that popular ingredient in your Italian salad dressing; that’s what the scheming store-guy wants you to think. Sorry to break your heart- you’re probably using a cheap imitation, pretty much like those clones and cyborgs in sci-fi movies; not the real deal!
Genuine balsamic vinegar that has been made in Italy since the middle ages, has more to do with wine than vinegar. Made only out of Lambrusco and Trebbiano grapes that have been aged for more than 12 years, the resultant rich, thick and delicious syrup is reputed to be worth the money!
- The Italian breakfast? Not a big deal
Did you know that the typical Italian breakfast is not a big thing? Of course, don’t try fiddling with their morning coffee!
Most breakfasts are nothing grander than a cornetto (croissant) and coffee on the go. Maybe some cookies and a cup of milk at home. Quick, sweet and simple is the mantra that they go by. The light breakfast probably explains why lunch is a big deal. Which reminds us – don’t fiddle with Italian lunch either; it’s almost sacred.
- Gelato is good for your health!
Now, we are not saying Gelato is the height of nutrition. But think about it – the original Gelato is made from milk, not cream. This reduces nearly half the amount of calories and fat from what you would consume with your usual ice-cream!
So if you are counting- Gelato has fresh ingredients, less preservatives, more vitamins and nutrients- you’re looking at practically healthy food here! Don’t believe us? Cut us some slack! Since the Italians are not complaining about Gelato, neither do we see any reason why you should!
And we have not even started with pronunciation! How you pronounce world-famous Italian dishes would make the best chefs chase you out of Italy with their mezzaluna knives!
But all is well!
Reliable knowledge is hard to come by in this (dis)information-saturated world. And if you’re a die-hard culinary aspirant, you really have no option but to hear it from the horse’s mouth! Which is why culinary courses in Bangalore, like the dual degree by AIMS Institutes lets its students train at ALMA in Parma, Italy, under some of the most reputed names in the Italian culinary kingdom. You can’t get more authentic than that, can you?
Do you know surprising food facts about Italian cuisine that did not make it to the list above? Share your thoughts; maybe it’s your turn to stun us!