Unless you’ve been living under a rock for your entire life, you know that Italy is famous for its food. In spite of the wide array of traditional dishes, however, many meals that are often perceived to be Italian actually originated somewhere else. So be careful the next time you knock Chef Boyardee for not sticking to the “authentic recipes” — he may have invented some of them. Here are some “authentic” Italian foods you can’t find in Italy.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
First, let me clarify: you can get spaghetti in Italy and you can get meatballs in Italy, but you can’t get them both on the same plate at the same time. See, the Italians have a specific meal structure during pranzo (lunch). This is the biggest meal of the day for just about everyone in the country, and there are several courses involved. The “primo” portion of the meal consists of a pasta dish or soup, which is where spaghetti would typically consumed. The “secondo” part of the meal is the main course, where meat or fish is served. Spaghetti and meatballs as a unified plate was invented by Italian immigrants in New York City who wanted to fuse traditional cuisine from their home country with the one-course meal norm in the United States.
I know, I know, you feel like your entire life has been a lie. Chicken parm, chicken parm subs, and chicken parm pizza, and all other variations we know and love were invented in the U.S. by (you guessed it) Italian immigrants. In resemblance to the above example, Italians would not approve of the excess of mozzarella cheese or the combination of chicken with a red sauce. In light of the picky European sense of taste, the delicious treat could only exist in America (because you know, freedom).
Garlic bread is as about as Italian as macaroni and cheese. Typically made with oil, garlic, herbs, and sometimes butter, garlic bread is purely American. The closest you can find in Italy is bruschetta, a classic antipasto that consists of toasted slices of bread topped with diced tomatoes, basil, and olive oil.
The above examples explain exactly why we are the land of the free and the home of the gravy. Here are some actual classic Italian dishes.
What’s your favorite Italian food dish?