In the last segment we covered just how different Italian-American and Italian food around the world is different than the cuisine actually eaten in Italy. We all know French fries aren’t from France, but did you know Italian Dressing is actually not from Italy? In fact, we covered Italian Dressing, Spaghetti and Meatballs, and Marinara sauce last time. While it may not matter for all intents and purposes as long as one is enjoying what they are eating, it can be good to know the differences so you can be prepared and get the most enjoyment possible if you ever visit the country.
One that you may not see coming is garlic bread, as garlic, onions and butter are far less common in Italy comparatively. Dipping bread in butter is a sight to be seen over there, with the locals opting to dip it in olive oil instead. It is for this reason that we at Italian Garden actually offer olive oil alongside our bread instead of only butter. That is what is authentic. They do not spring for such strong flavors on their breads, and in fact garlic bread was actually invented in America sometime in the late 1940s, marketed in Italian restaurants as something from their home country.
A dish that when you think about it makes sense it lacks an Italian origin, is mozzarella sticks. These would seem less out of place at a state fair than at an upscale Italian restaurant. An unknown fact is that certain European countries actually have a stereotype about the way American’s smell. It isn’t that we are gross, or never shower, but actually that some of us eat so much cheese in our diets that we start to have the faint scent of cheese among those of us who eat a lot of it. So something that is basically just cheese wrapped around a fried roll makes sense that it would be American in nature. As well, just like Italians choose to not use salad dressings because they make it unhealthy, these offer almost no nutrition worth mentioning positively. The name mozzarella does come from a cheese that is actually used in the regions in the Southern part of the country, near the sea.
As a disclaimer as you read this series, it is true that all of these dishes are extremely uncommon within Italy, and far more popular worldwide. But the reality is that nothing is a monolith. Meaning, just because most restaurants don’t sell it, and most recipes do indeed differ, that does not mean there are never those who did eat the dishes in a less-traditional style. Indeed, one of the items the next article will go over will be fettuccini alfredo, which is actually served at one place in Rome. But that place is only there to cater to American tourists. Things like don’t disprove they aren’t eaten by Italians, but actually affirms that they were.