The Perils of Eating in Italy

You’ve come to Italy to eat all the Italian food you love in the US, you want to try how it “really is” in Italy. You get to your first restaurant and Italy and look for fettucine alfredo, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken parmigiana and salad with salami, olives, cheese and a Italian dressing. But, none of these are on the menu! These foods do not actually exist in Italy, and some are even considered sacrilegious, such as spaghetti and meatballs or chicken parmigiana. Fettucine Alfredo is essentially a food for when you’re sick, so though not completely outlawed, you won’t find it on a menu. After finally ordering your food and eating, you want to order a cappuccino to finish off the meal, but once again it’s 2pm and you can’t have a cappuccino at that hour! Who knew all these rules existed? Read and learn more about the perils of eating in Italy.

  1. Spaghetti and meatballs do not go together. Meatballs are an antipasto (appetizer) or secondo (second dish) and they will not be found anywhere neat a plate of spaghetti. Spaghetti, a long pasta, does not go anywhere near a meatball, a large round object. How do you manage to get both on your fork in the same bite? Each pasta has its designated sauce and there are no exceptions. Spaghetti goes with pomodorini (cherry tomatoes), but no onions in the sauce if you are make pasta con pomodorini with spaghetti, the onions do not work with the spaghetti, only with short pasta. I would need to write a thesis on all the types of pasta and their designated sauces, so let’s leave it at that. Don’t mix spaghetti with meatballs. Ever.
  2. Fettucine Alfredo is not real. Yes, this dish was first served in a restaurant in Rome, but for American guests who loved it so much they brought it back to California with them and served it at their restaurant, taking the name of the restaurant they first ate it, Alfredo’s. It is basically a glorified version of what you serve to someone under the weather, pasta with olive oil or cream. This is my picky kids favorite meal, but once again the olive oil or cream sauce is usually “better” with short pasta, like penne.
  3. Cappuccino after 11:30 is unacceptable, in fact all milk is unacceptable after 11:30 am. Your body simply can not digest milk in the afternoon. It’s that simple, don’t ask more questions. If you NEED milk in your coffee, café macchiato is acceptable (espresso with a TINY splash of milk).
  4. Chicken parmigiana isn’t a food in Italy. I don’t know the history of Chicken Parmigiana, but I do know that Eggplant Parmigiana is the best food ever and you should order it wherever you see it, especially at my mother-in-laws (she makes the best!) Take out the chicken and add fried and breaded slices of tender eggplant topped with mozzarella (sometimes it doesn’t have mozzarella), tomato sauce, basil and parmesan cheese. Avoid fights with Italians if parmigiana is from Sicily or Naples.
  5. Seafood, especially fish, doesn’t go with cheese. Do not top your grilled fish or pasta with seafood with any form of cheese, it is sacrilegious and you may die from bad digestion.
  6. You will be asked to leave the country if you put pineapple on your pizza. It is not ok though, to top your pizza with French fries and hot dogs, so no worries, you’ve got stranger combinations you can try! On the same not pepperoni does not mean spicy salami, it means bell peppers, so if you order a pepperoni pizza you are getting pizza with bell peppers. “Pizza alla Diavola”, is the closest to pepperoni, it’s spicy salami.
  7. Eggs have no place at breakfast. Just because. Only at lunch or dinner.
  8. Salad dressings do not exist, only olive oil, vinegar, salt and a little lemon (if you’re the adventurous type).
  9. Bread isn’t for eating before the meal, it is meant to be eaten with the meal or used at the end of the meal to scoop up all that remaining delicious tomato sauce aka “fare la scarpetta”.

Buon Appetito!

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