Anyone who has read my blogs will have had more than a flavour of my passion for Italian food. I must admit to getting a little annoyed when I see so many dishes labelled “traditional Italian” when nothing could be further from the truth. In this blog, I’ll “expose” five common dishes that fall into this category.
Every time I read this dish on an “Italian” restaurant’s menu I get the chills. Anyone following us on social media will have read that we use more than 300 different shapes of pasta. Each one is different, not only aesthetically, but also in how it links with the rest of the food on the plate. Meat sauce, or bolognaise, is definitely not a good match for spaghetti or any other long shaped pasta (be honest, how many times have you dribbled it down your chin?!). There is one possible exception – a home-made ribbon of tagliatelle can hold on to bolognaise sauce very well. Buonissimo!
Spaghetti with meatballs
I blame the film Lady and the Tramp because otherwise this dish doesn’t even exist! If that sounds a bit bah humbug so be it – we’re serious about our food in Italy! We also like to keep things separate. Pasta is a primo (first course) and meatballs are a secondo (second course). We eat pasta with a sauce, olive oil, butter or cheese. No exceptions at all. Spaghetti with meatballs are a fully American fusion of two beloved dishes. It’s semplicemente non Italiano (just not Italian!), sorry!
Outside Italy, carbonara is messed up constantly! A very famous Italian blog called Dissapore says: If your boyfriend prepares it with cream, leave him. If he prepares it with garlic, leave him. If he prepares it with parsley, leave him… and so on. Carbonara is made with very few and very specific ingredients, and follows a very precise method of preparation. Again, for us it’s a serious matter, so please stop buying the canned carbonara sauce, make it yourself and follow the rules!
Italian dressing is about as Italian as spaghetti with meatballs – i.e., not at all! We don’t use dressings like mixes of creams and sauces or herbs for salad. This proverb sums it up… Four people are needed:-
A wise person for the salt
A generous person for extra virgin olive oil
A stingy person for red wine vinegar
A patient person to toss until every leaf is evenly coated
Questo è tutto (That’s all!)
I’ve read many a tall tale about why it’s called Alfredo but trust me, it’s nothing to do with a long-lost uncle! Besides, using just butter and parmesan on your pasta is only allowed when you are sick or recovering in hospital, or perhaps when your fridge is empty (very unusual for Italians!!!)