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 

italian food

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.

Chicken Parmesan 

italian food

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

italian food

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?


Jay is currently pursuing a Bachelor's Degree at Rutgers University as an English major. He has a passion for creative writing, and is entertained by anything shiny. He's the kind of guy who many people do not expect to be a practical joker, but proves those people wrong after a pie in the face and several Nerf bullets to the chest. Jay enjoys playing guitar and claims to have invented the Pythagorean Theorem (I had the idea before I knew who Pythagoras was). Favorite quote: "Combine pancake mix, water and peanut butter; mix according to package directions" - Aunt Jemima.


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