10 Commandments of Italian Cooking

This entry is part 9 of 31 in the series My Italian Kitchen

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The 10 Italian Cooking Commandments

by Academia Barilla

[source]

I found these 10 commandments awhile ago and saved the link because I agree with them wholeheartedly. The Barilla Academy put together the 10 most common mistakes and stereotypes about Italian Cooking abroad so you can avoid them! [I have added my own notes inside the brackets.] Here you go!

1- You shall not sip cappuccino during a meal!

Coffee and cappuccino are the pride of Italy in the world; but if the first is usually consumed at the end of the meal, the second, more substantial, is sipped at breakfast, usually accompanied by some pastry. You can ask for a cappuccino at the end of a meal, just know that most Italians don’t. [If you REALLY want a cappuccino-like coffee beverage, it is acceptable to ask for a macchiato. It is basically a mini cappuccino, the size of an espresso but really espresso is THE after dinner coffee.]

2- Risotto and pasta are NOT a side dish

The organization of courses in the Italian dining is unique and requires pasta and – most of the time –risotto to be served by themselves (apart from specific recipes such as Ossobuco milanese-style). The presentation of pasta as a side dish is widespread in several countries, but in Italy it is seen almost as a sacrilege. [Yep. Pretty much. Nothing else to say about this!]

3- You shall not add oil to pasta water!

Oil should not be added to pasta cooking water! Pasta dressing (and oil too) must be added only after you have drained it from its cooking water. [If you add oil to the water then you are guaranteeing that the sauce you add will not cling to the pasta strands. If you are worried of the pasta, especially long pasta, sticking together, add a ladlefull of the sauce you will be serving to the pot of drained pasta and toss.]

4- Ketchup on pasta: please, don’t

This is one of the combinations that most shocks Italians; although ketchup may have some similarities to tomato sauce, pouring ketchup over pasta in the “Bel Paese” is considered a real gourmet crime. Keep ketchup for your french fries or hot dogs, please! [Honestly, I have never seen anyone do this in the US but apparently it’s a thing.]

5- Spaghetti Bolognese? No way, it’s Tagliatelle!

While probably being the world’s most popular Italian recipe, you will not find any restaurant in Bologna to eat it. That’s because the original Italian recipe is “Tagliatelle Bolognese” (not spaghetti).

Although this may seem a minor detail, in real Italian cuisine the pairing of the right kind of pasta with the right sauce is considered almost sacred. [Side note: I do not follow this rule. I’m not a big tagliatelle fan (it’s egg pasta) and it’s hard to find in the US. I serve my Bolognese sauce on both short and long pasta. Just not on pastina. No elbow macaroni please!]

6- Chicken Pasta: not in Italy

Speaking with American friends, one of the most frequent requests is the advice for a typical Italian recipe for pasta with chicken. It’s always rather embarrassing to point out that in Italy there are no hot dishes featuring pasta and chicken. [This is true. No chicken with pasta. Every other kind of meat and seafood is acceptable but not chicken.]

7- “Caesar salad”

This salad, which bears the name of its supposed creator, Caesar Cardini, is a part of the long list of recipes devised by chefs of Italian origin, but in fact is almost unknown in Italy. [Growing up, salad came in two varieties: “green” (lettuce only) and “mixed” (lettuce with some tomato wedges) and the only dressing was oil and vinegar that you poured on yourself. These days, with Western influence, you can get an “insalatone” (big salad) which has a lot more stuff on it, similar to our dinner salads here. But this is a relatively new dish in Italy.]

8- The red and white checkered tablecloth is only a stereotype !

For some strange reason, these tablecloths are universally associated with our food and with the stereotype of the “spaghetti-eater”, and abroad almost all the restaurants that want to play typical Italian use them. Probably, tourists who come to visit Italy remain somewhat disappointed when they discover that the checkered tablecloths are almost never used (only restaurants for tourists do!) [I think Lady and the Tramp added to this stereotype.]

9- “Fettuccine Alfredo” are popular only overseas

This is perhaps the most curious in this top ten. The fettuccine Alfredo is both the most famous “Italian” food in the United States and the least known dish in Italy. These noodles, seasoned with butter and Parmigiano Reggiano, have, in fact, actually been invented in the “Bel Paese”, specifically by Alfredo Di Lelio, the owner of a restaurant in Rome, but in Italy have never been imposed as a traditional dish. Overseas, however, have become increasingly popular and in time became a symbol of the good life in Rome. For this reason legions of American tourists coming to Italy hoping to enjoy the fettuccine Alfredo at every restaurant on the peninsula remain very disappointed. [There are several creamy-type of recipes such as Carbonara and Cacio e Pepe but it’s still not “Alfredo.]

10 – You shall respect tradition and what Italian mamma says.

She knows from her mamma, who knew from her mamma who knew from her mamma and so on. It’s been tried and tested. And what does a mother teach her daughter while they are cooking? That love is the center of all. We must share Italian food with our loved ones. It is what life, love and family are all about. [“This is the best ______ recipe because this is the one my mamma made!” I agree with that, no matter where you’re from and what dish you are talking about, whether it’s meatloaf or minestrone, apple tart or tiramiú.]

10 commandments

And there you have them folks. The 10 commandments. Now you know. Don’t break them!

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About Sheila @ Making the Most of Every Day

I’m a wife, mom, and a homeschool teacher. I’m always behind on housework and paper pile sorting. I’m fond of this crazy life but not of melted cheese. I want to follow hard after God, making each day really count. I like to run, read, cook (and eat!). Thanks for joining along on my journey!

14 thoughts on “10 Commandments of Italian Cooking

  1. haha, surprisingly I knew most of these…but love it! 🙂 Off to catch up with your other posts.

  2. Fascinating. I always thought a “green salad” was one that included leafy greens (usually lettuce of some kind) as opposed to oh, pasta salad or fruit salad or tuna salad…

    I read somewhere that “Italian” restaurants became popular in the US in the 1930s or along in through there, and people thought they were being so exotic to have red checkered tablecloths and spaghetti, but really the dishes were very bland–pasta and a plain tomato sauce (ketchup??)– because American tastes were not all that adventurous at that time.

  3. HISTORY OF ALFREDO DI LELIO CREATOR IN 1908 OF “FETTUCCINE ALL’ALFREDO” (“FETTUCCINE ALFREDO”), NOW SERVED BY HIS NEPHEW INES DI LELIO, AT THE RESTAURANT “IL VERO ALFREDO” – “ALFREDO DI ROMA” IN ROME, PIAZZA AUGUSTO IMPERATORE 30

    With reference to your article I have the pleasure to tell you the history of my grandfather Alfredo Di Lelio, who is the creator of “Fettuccine all’Alfredo” (“Fettuccine Alfredo”) in 1908 in the “trattoria” run by his mother Angelina in Rome, Piazza Rosa (Piazza disappeared in 1910 following the construction of the Galleria Colonna / Sordi). This “trattoria” of Piazza Rosa has become the “birthplace of fettuccine all’Alfredo”.
    More specifically, as is well known to many people who love the “fettuccine all’Alfredo”, this famous dish in the world was invented by Alfredo Di Lelio concerned about the lack of appetite of his wife Ines, who was pregnant with my father Armando (born February 26, 1908).
    Alfredo di Lelio opened his restaurant “Alfredo” in 1914 in Rome and in 1943, during the war, he sold the restaurant to others outside his family.
    In 1950 Alfredo Di Lelio decided to reopen with his son Armando his restaurant in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 “Il Vero Alfredo” (“Alfredo di Roma”), whose fame in the world has been strengthened by his nephew Alfredo and that now managed by me, with the famous “gold cutlery” (fork and spoon gold) donated in 1927 by two well-known American actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks (in gratitude for the hospitality).
    See also the website of “Il Vero Alfredo” .
    I must clarify that other restaurants “Alfredo” in Rome do not belong and are out of my brand “Il Vero Alfredo – Alfredo di Roma”.
    I inform you that the restaurant “Il Vero Alfredo –Alfredo di Roma” is in the registry of “Historic Shops of Excellence” of the City of Rome Capitale.
    Best regards Ines Di Lelio

    IN ITALIANO

    STORIA DI ALFREDO DI LELIO, CREATORE DELLE “FETTUCCINE ALL’ALFREDO” (“FETTUCCINE ALFREDO”), E DELLA SUA TRADIZIONE FAMILIARE PRESSO IL RISTORANTE “IL VERO ALFREDO” (“ALFREDO DI ROMA”) IN PIAZZA AUGUSTO IMPERATORE A ROMA

    Con riferimento al Vostro articolo ho il piacere di raccontarVi la storia di mio nonno Alfredo Di Lelio, inventore delle note “fettuccine all’Alfredo” (“Fettuccine Alfredo”).
    Alfredo Di Lelio, nato nel settembre del 1883 a Roma in Vicolo di Santa Maria in Trastevere, cominciò a lavorare fin da ragazzo nella piccola trattoria aperta da sua madre Angelina in Piazza Rosa, un piccolo slargo (scomparso intorno al 1910) che esisteva prima della costruzione della Galleria Colonna (ora Galleria Sordi).
    Il 1908 fu un anno indimenticabile per Alfredo Di Lelio: nacque, infatti, suo figlio Armando e videro contemporaneamente la luce in tale trattoria di Piazza Rosa le sue “fettuccine”, divenute poi famose in tutto il mondo. Questa trattoria è “the birthplace of fettuccine all’Alfredo”.
    Alfredo Di Lelio inventò le sue “fettuccine” per dare un ricostituente naturale, a base di burro e parmigiano, a sua moglie (e mia nonna) Ines, prostrata in seguito al parto del suo primogenito (mio padre Armando). Il piatto delle “fettuccine” fu un successo familiare prima ancora di diventare il piatto che rese noto e popolare Alfredo Di Lelio, personaggio con “i baffi all’Umberto” ed i calli alle mani a forza di mischiare le sue “fettuccine” davanti ai clienti sempre più numerosi.
    Nel 1914, a seguito della chiusura di detta trattoria per la scomparsa di Piazza Rosa dovuta alla costruzione della Galleria Colonna, Alfredo Di Lelio decise di trasferirsi in un locale in una via del centro di Roma, ove aprì il suo primo ristorante che gestì fino al 1943, per poi cedere l’attività a terzi estranei alla sua famiglia.
    Ma l’assenza dalla scena gastronomica di Alfredo Di Lelio fu del tutto transitoria. Infatti nel 1950 riprese il controllo della sua tradizione familiare ed aprì, insieme al figlio Armando, il ristorante “Il Vero Alfredo” (noto all’estero anche come “Alfredo di Roma”) in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 (cfr. il sito web di Il Vero Alfredo).
    Con l’avvio del nuovo ristorante Alfredo Di Lelio ottenne un forte successo di pubblico e di clienti negli anni della “dolce vita”. Successo, che, tuttora, richiama nel ristorante un flusso continuo di turisti da ogni parte del mondo per assaggiare le famose “fettuccine all’Alfredo” al doppio burro da me servite, con l’impegno di continuare nel tempo la tradizione familiare dei miei cari maestri, nonno Alfredo, mio padre Armando e mio fratello Alfredo. In particolare le fettuccine sono servite ai clienti con 2 “posate d’oro”: una forchetta ed un cucchiaio d’oro regalati nel 1927 ad Alfredo dai due noti attori americani M. Pickford e D. Fairbanks (in segno di gratitudine per l’ospitalità).
    Un aneddoto della vita di mio nonno. Alfredo fu un grande amico di Ettore Petrolini, che conobbe nei primi anni del 1900 in un incontro tra ragazzi del quartiere Trastevere (tra cui mio nonno) e ragazzi del Quartiere Monti (tra cui Petrolini). Fu proprio Petrolini che un giorno, già attore famoso, andando a trovare l’amico Alfredo, gli disse che lui era un “attore” della cucina romana nel mondo e gli consigliò di attaccare alle pareti del ristorante le sue foto con i noti personaggi soprattutto dello spettacolo, del cinema e della cultura in genere che erano ospiti di “Alfredo”. Anche ciò fa parte del cuore della bella tradizione di famiglia che continuo a rendere sempre viva con affetto ed entusiasmo.
    Desidero precisare che altri ristoranti “Alfredo” a Roma non appartengono e sono fuori dal mio brand di famiglia.
    Vi informo che il Ristorante “Il Vero Alfredo” è presente nell’Albo dei “Negozi Storici di Eccellenza – sezione Attività Storiche di Eccellenza” del Comune di Roma Capitale.
    Grata per la Vostra attenzione ed ospitalità nel Vostro interessante blog, cordiali saluti
    Ines Di Lelio

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