I know I am starting to own the title of Italian culinary myth buster but it bothers me when some dishes are labelled as traditional and they are not at all traditional! Here are a few examples…
No 1 – Ham and Pineapple
Firstly, pineapples don’t grow in Italy, so I think this should be a clue! Secondly, we only eat fruit and cold cuts in 2 of our dishes: Prosciutto and melon or Prosciutto and figs; in these cases, the fruit balances the saltiness of the prosciutto and they work in perfect harmony together. We would never, ever add pineapple to a pizza, but ham is definitely an ingredient that we do use. This brings us on to…
No 2 – Any baked cold cuts on a pizza
I’m specifically thinking of pepperoni here but it doesn’t quite cover that. The funny thing is that the word “pepperoni” in Italian means pepper and every time I read that word it creates a second of confusion in my head! One golden rule in Italian cuisine is that we don’t cook cold cuts (or very, very rarely). The heat changes the texture and taste so if they are high quality meats, why would you spoil them with heat? Prosciutto has different names too, we call it Parma ham or “raw ham”, so please don’t cook it! However, this doesn’t mean we don’t use cold cuts on pizzas though, we just add them “in uscita”, which means when you take them out of the oven and before serving them. This way, the quality remains intact and the texture and taste are at their best.
No 3 – BBQ Sauce
I don’t think it’s a secret that we tend to use tomato sauce everywhere in Italian cooking, BBQ sauce is simply something that is not part of our culture (but I love it; on the right food!). The reason why we don’t need BBQ sauce is because it’s normally used when you add meat to your pizza! And this takes us on to….
No 4 – Chicken
I can’t really find any good reason why we don’t add chicken to our pizzas, but, we just don’t! We are talking about what’s traditional here and chicken on a pizza is really not traditional at all.
No 5 – Garlic Bread
OK, this is not specifically a kind of pizza however, it contains one of the most used ingredients in our cuisine, it’s something I have discovered since I moved to the UK and I do actually like it (for a change!!!) but it’s just something that is not really traditional for us. Also, we don’t really use butter very often as we love our olive oil!
One thing you need to know is that I am a total foodie, I love food of any kind. I have had pizza with BBQ sauce on more than one occasion because I simply like it. I wanted to write this blog because I have come across a number of dishes here in the UK that are labelled as Italian but they really are not at all. Some restaurants and chefs think that it’s a good idea to adapt certain recipes to fit the local cuisine, I do not think that is the best choice! With the variety of amazing dishes that we have, it is just a matter of finding what works here, and simply don’t cook what doesn’t! What are your thoughts?