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Misconceptions About Italian Food

June 21, 2019

Americans love Italian food! But if you ever travel to Italy ready to devour your favorite dishes, you may have a bit of trouble. Although many restaurants in the U.S., including Sipipa, enjoy following traditional techniques, we all put our own spin on things and create our own special recipes, fusions and twists on the classics. We also modify and enhance traditional recipes by using fresh, locally available ingredients.

So if you try to order something like a pepperoni pizza or fettuccine alfredo at a restaurant in Italy, be prepared for a perplexed expression on your waiter’s face… or for something entirely unexpected to arrive on your table. Italian food can get lost in translation. Here are some common myths, misconceptions and different perceptions.

Italian food is bad for you.
Delicious choices like pasta and pizza are high in carbs. But a traditional Italian diet also consists of a huge quantity of fresh vegetables and lean meats. We also use extra virgin olive oil, rather than butter, which is healthier.

Italians often overeat.
What you may see on TV — with big Italian families gathered around a table overflowing with food for three meals each day — is not exactly reality. Italian don’t typically eat pasta, cheese, pizza, cured meats and bread every single day. And if they do, it’s in small quantities and often balanced with vegetables or other foods. Italians take pride in taking care of themselves. And compared to many American restaurants, portion sizes in Italians restaurants are more controlled.

You can’t enjoy Italian food if you have food allergies and/or a special diet.
As with all cultural food, meeting your dietary needs (and avoiding your restrictions) takes an effort, but it’s not impossible. Italian food features a variety of vegetables. And if you’re avoiding traditional pasta, there are many other options featuring chickpeas, polenta, meats, fish, beans and seasonal salads. For desserts, look for treats made with almond flour, or gelato and sorbet made without milk.

Italians eat a ton of garlic.
When you think of Italian spices and key ingredients, you’re sure to think of oregano, basil, parsley and especially garlic. And while all these items are used in our kitchen — and in many restaurants throughout Italy — you won’t find anything overloaded with garlic.

Pasta is a side dish.
Good pasta, done well and served right, is an entrée. And who would want to eat plain pasta where there are so many way to stuff or cover your pasta with cheese, meats, fresh vegetables and sauces?

Good pasta comes in cans.
Nope… fresh pasta is a must! You might find some passable pasta in a box, but pasta in a can should be avoided at all cost. For best results, you want homemade, steaming hot pasta served with a fresh sauce.