One of the most significant differences that I’ve noticed is that Italian Cuisin uses more restraint with ingredients than Italian-American food. For instance, a pizza would have much less cheese in Italy and wouldn’t be in load with toppings. Italian chefs generally cook a dish with a few exquisite ingredients, prepared, and at the peak of perfection.
In Italy, sauce on pasta is in integration entirely, but sparingly—pasta doesn’t swim in a sauce. Portions are reasonable in Italy and meant to be finished in one sitting, whereas Italian-American portion sizes are generally quite large.
Italian-American cuisine uses cream more frequently than Italian cuisine—if you see Alfredo sauce on a menu in Italy, you’re probably in a tourist trap. I find that in general Italian food tastes lighter to me than Italian-American food, which feels much more precious to me. I’ve never seen cheese-laden dishes in Italy, like Chicken Parmigiana, as one finds on most Italian-American menus.
Italian Cuisin In Italy Vs. America
Italians serve food in a different order than in the States. You don’t start with a salad as you do in many Italian-American restaurants. The courses are as follows (although you certainly need not order every course):
antipasto (bruschetta, charcuterie, etc.),
primo course (pasta, rice, or soup),
second course (meat or fish), content—served with secondo (vegetables, salad), cheese/fruit, desserts. Since the meat is served separately from the pasta, you would order meatballs after the pasta course, which may seem different to Americans who are to use in spaghetti and meatballs.
If you’re in Italy, I recommend a food tour to get familiar with the local cuisine. Our friends at the Roman Guy offer food tours in many major Italian cities. If you use our code ROAMING, you can save 5%.
Few More Differences
Firstly, in Italy, there is no such thing as Italian cuisine. It’s all very regional. Calabrese food and Friulano food are worlds apart.
But setting that aside:
· in Italy, garlic is used far less.
· Seafood is used far more in most regions.
· In Italy, pasta is rarely the main course. It’s to serve between an appetizer and a main course. Portions are far smaller than what we expect.
· Italians use far more of an animal—cuts of meat that are common there but rarely make it to an American grocery store. Pig cheek. Tripe. (It’s a cuisine born mostly in austerity—one wastes nothing).
· In Italy, vegetable reign supreme. Veganism is rare, and animal protein is somewhere on that plate, but often ¼ or less of the meal. It’s often the star of the plate, but not the most significant player in quantity.
· Cheese is far less often baked or melted into everything. Those triple gooey super deep dish pizzas or heavy lasagnas are rare. Pizza is often almost paper-thin. Lasagna is often many, many delicate, thin layers of pasta and sauce, usually with cheese but not the stuff we’re used to at all.