When asked about Italy, people normally think about mafia, football, a moustache guy gesticulating or singing opera with a mandolin. Do the Italians really have a mandolin in their houses? The answer is ‘No’ and probably the new generations don’t even know what a mandolin is. Anyway the most common beliefs are about food.
It is said that Italians eat a lot of pasta. Is it true that Italians eat a lot of pasta? Yes, it is part of the Italian culture. The average is about 80 grams per person every day, about 30 kg per person per year.
There is a big difference between northern Italy and southern Italy though. In the south, they eat about 40 kg of pasta per person every year, whereas in the north about 20 kg every year. South Italy is where most of the Italian stereotypes are confirmed, people who enjoy “il dolce far niente”, the sweetness of doing nothing, people speaking loud, football, and every Sunday to the church with the family, ect. Sunday is also the day of the big lunch with all the family where 5 or 6 plates are served by the “mamma” or the “nonna” who began to prepare the dishes 5 in the morning.
Every Italian region has its own specialties that are more or less known. There are although some world-famous plates that people think are Italian, but that are actually not:
Pizza pepperoni. Everywhere in the world you can find pizza pepperoni with some hot salami on it. Actually peperoni spelled with only one ‘p’ is the Italian green or red pepper. A pizza with salami in Italy can be called diavola, which means devil when it is spicy. Pizza pepperoni is just a name given to this dish to give it an Italian touch.
Pasta with meatballs. Do you remember lily and the vagabond when they kiss while eating spaghetti? The pasta with meatballs is not a plate you can find in a typical restaurant in Italy. You can find spaghetti, you can find meatballs but usually not together.
Pizza with pineapple. This is not a typical Italian combination. The pineapple is a tropical fruit and in Italy usually you don’t find fruit on the pizza. An exception is the Roman pizza with figues. Even if Italian pizza is usually very simple like the Margherita or Marinara, you can find pizzas that might sound a little bit weird but very tasty like pizza with potatoes or pizza with Nutella. If you are going to Naples, the city where the pizza was invented never ask for a pizza with pineapple.
Pasta Carbonara with cream. The authentic pasta carbonara is an invention from Rome and it’s made with only 4 ingredients: pasta, pecorino cheese, pork cheek, egg and pepper. You should never add cream if you want to call it in this way. If you add cream please call it pasta with cream.
Pasta Alfredo. There is a very interesting story about this famous dish that you can find here. You can try in Rome the original pasta Alfredo but you don’t find this pasta in the real Roman Trattorias. Don’t be disappointed if you may not find it because pasta Alfredo is not a typical Italian dish.
Caffè romano is espresso coffee with a slice of lemon. I’ve never tried it because despite the name it is not possible to find it in Rome. It is sold only abroad, perhaps its name was invented in America.
Latte. When you come to Italy and you want to be cool and order a latte at the bar, be prepared that you will be served only milk. In fact in Italian latte means milk. If you want some coffee and some milk you should order a caffélatte. Here you can read more about Italian coffee.