Monday, October 20, 2014

Italian Foods

Since the influx of Italian immigrants in the early 1900's Americans have thought of Italian foods as spaghetti with meatballs, and pizza. Unfortunately, these foods in the US are really bastardizations of foods found in Italy.  Many people come to Italy looking for the traditional over-sauced pasta with softball-sized meatballs and garlic bread when in reality the Italians don't serve these things. They don't over-sauce the pasta, as a matter of fact they under-cook the pasta, and then toss it into a small amount of sauce in a skillet to further cook it and have the pasta absorb the sauce.

FYI this is a photo from the Food Network website---how awful is this?

 And pizza should not look like a stuffed calzone (above) it should look like the pizzas below--thin crust with a small amount of cheese, and toppings, not the monstrosity pictured above.

Italian foods are simple, but in the simplicity is the complex nature of the ingredients they are using. I have yet to see the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar mixture that is put on every (supposedly) upscale restaurant in the US here in Italy.  Italians think that traditionally made balsamic vinegar from Modena is so special that it should only be used by itself in a special preparation, not drowned in olive oil and sopped with bread.
Prosciutto, Melon, that's it, no foam, no liquid nitrogen

Stuffed zucchini flowers with herbed ricotta

Pork loin braised in Sagrantino with Sagrantino grapes

Pasta with truffles, and a bit of olive oil
Veal, artichokes, and pecorino cheese

Veal Meatballs with roasted potatoes

Seafood risotto--seafood, rice, and seafood stock

Ravioli with porcini

Ricotta and pear ravioli with pork sauce
At Macceleria Dario Cecchini, the beef is lightly seasoned and then allowed to speak for itself

Simonetta's Olive oil cake: flour, sugar, eggs, oil, and oranges
Tuscan beans: beans, olive oil, and sage
 Part of the genius of Italian cooking is that their produce is spectacular: locally sourced, non-GMO and cooking is seasonal.  Most Italians shop daily for their groceries.


Where else could you get a beautifully prepared cappuccino and croissant for breakfast?  Just FYI Starbucks would never work here there is such a coffee culture, and you can't get it to go except at McDonalds.
So, if you come to Italy, expect seasonal and regional ingredients.  And, expect simplicity that delivers with flavors that explode in your mouth. This is the original 5 ingredients or less cuisine for the most part.  (OK, lasagna Bolognese requires a few extra ingredients, I'll grant you that)  
Don't expect the red sauce Italian that is the typical Italian American stereotype.  If you are looking for that you will be sorely disappointed.  Come to Italy and eat like the Italiani.  

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