It is a known fact that Italian food is a favourite for most people all around the world. Be it the tempting pizzas, lasagnas, pastas or wine, Italian food is simply the best and we have a lot to thank Italy for. Although we usually get the taste of Italy from Italian restaurants, what if all that we know about Italian food is not entirely true? How much do you really know about Italian cuisine? Let’s take a look at some interesting facts about Italian food.
Interesting facts about Italian food
Do you think you know a lot about Italian food? Here are some interesting facts about Italian food to check out while you wait until your next Italian delight. Let’s see!
Naples invented the Pizza during the 18th century
Our first food fact is that Italy is the birthplace of one of the most popular foods in the entire world. No, not pasta but rather, Pizza. When you think pizza you think Italiano, but the origin of pizza goes back to ancient times. Greeks and Egyptians were cooking a pizza like flatbread and topping it with olive oil and spices.
The “modern pizza” as we know it evolved in Naples Italy, when tomato was added to in the late 18th century. After its creation, it was a hit with the poorer side of Naples where street vendors would sell these at a very cheap price. Moreover the story tells is the Neapolitan chef Raffaele Esposito, in charge of creating a meal for the queen Margherita, wanted to make a patriotic dish for her. The queen asked to see the tables and sit in a pizzeria to try out the dishes of the poor. He therefore came up with the idea of a pizza with the colors of the Italian flag: red (tomato sauce), white (Mozzarella) and basil for green, the colors of the Italian flag! Since then, pizza Margherita has been prepared only with these three ingredients.
A modern dessert in Italy is “Tiramisu”
Tiramisu is the most popular dessert from Italy. This pastry is relatively new, unlike some classical Italian desserts such as sfogliatelle or cannoli. The Tiramisu came about in the 1970s and comes from the Veneto region in Venice. The name comes from the Italian tiramisù, meaning “pick me up” or “cheer me up”. It is a very well-known dessert, and you can find it in many countries around the world. What makes the dessert so sweet and attractive is its layers of savoiardi biscuits and mascarpone cream.
Spaghetti and meatballs are not very Italian
It’s common to find the combination of spaghetti and meatballs in Italian restaurants around the world. Unfortunately, it is not an authentic Italian dish but an American one. The spaghetti and meatballs were created by Italian immigrants in the US, who saw an increase in buying power and bought more beef, creating massive meatballs and eating them as a side with pastas.
The fact is most pasta dishes are not topped with meat. In Italy, the type of meatballs you can find are “polpettes”, but they’re very small, and eaten as a standalone meal or with soup; never with pasta. Only special dishes cooked “al Forno” (baked in the oven) which is topped with meat.
Caesar salad doesn’t come from Italy
The well-known Caesar salad isn’t technically Italian. Even though it was created by an Italian restaurant owner in the 1920s, he was residing in Tijuana, Mexico at the time. It was also popularized in the United States. Caesar Salad is a wholesome combination of romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese, croutons and raw egg yolk.
There are more than 600 different pasta shapes
The Italian cuisine without pasta is unthinkable! This is what the International Pasta Organization States. According to this organization, currently, there are more than 600 different shapes of pasta produced world-wide. Unbelievable right? There is a pasta shape to complement every pasta dish out there. There are different sizes of stuffed ravioli, penne or tubes, spaghetti, curly spirali, and many more to name. The noodles are made in all sorts of shapes, lengths, and sizes, but they are all made simply from flour, water, and eggs.
There is a national Italian Food day
February 13 is the holiday for all lovers of the Italian food. It is National Italian Food Day. What a perfect excuse to eat some carbs!
Garlic bread is definitely not Italian
It feels like garlic bread is a staple in many restaurants around the world, however you wouldn’t find this garlic bread anywhere in Italy. Garlic bread is an American invention. In Italy, bread is usually served plain and without garlic butter. Miles away from the greasy garlic butter garlic bread you’re used to eat! When they are seasoning their dishes, using less is more.
Tomatoes are originally from America
One of the most amazing facts about Italian food is that tomatoes are not native to Italy. Tomatoes are a staple of Italian cuisine, but they were unknown in Europe before the discovery of the New World. The tomato is originally from the Americas, and was brought back by the European explorers in the 16th century. We have to wait to the 18th century to see the tomato rise in popularity in Italy, and it was first used as tomato sauce in pasta in the early 1800’s.
In wine production, Italy ranks second worldwide
Wine has always been part of good meals in Italy, and wine production is one of the main economic sectors of the country. The wine production in Italy ranks second place, trailing France, and ahead of the United States and Spain.
Because of the climate and temperatures that Italy has, the Belpaese is the largest wine producer in the world. Italian wine-makers can plant and grow a huge variety of grapes that they use to make world-renown wines.
The original Italian pizza is simpler than you think
As we know, there are a lot of variations of pizza but in Italy, they always have a thin crust pizza. The crust of authentic Italian pizza is light, crispy and thin. The sauce consists of fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Moreover the entire pizza is usually cooked in a wood-fired oven for approximately 90 seconds. The thicker variety with spongy crust is something that was invented outside of Italy.
Espresso, a popular Italian method of serving coffee, gives you less caffeine than regular drip coffee
When you order ‘un caffe’ in Italy or ‘a coffee’ you get what abroad is known as espresso, a shot of coffee in a small cup. Italian coffee is really espresso, except they don’t call it espresso. It’s called caffe. You can say ‘espresso’ in Italy too but really, the way to order it is ‘un caffe’ per favore‘ (one coffee please). A cup of regular brewed coffee has about 115 milligrams of caffeine, slightly higher that what you’ll get from an espresso: about 80mg.
The famous pepperoni pizza is not from Italy
A fun fact, pepperoni with one P means bell pepper in Italian. Pepperoni pizza, however, is not Italian. Pepperoni pizza is an American delicacy! So if you pull up to a pizza place in Italy and ask for a “pepperoni pizza”, you’ll definitely be in for a surprise.
Italian Gelato is not the same as ice cream
Gelato is not the Italian word for ice cream, but rather, an Italian specialty with peculiar characteristic. It is less cold than ice cream, nutritious and with less fat. Gelato is also a special type of ice cream that is native to Italy. Everybody knows what is Gelato, especially for ice cream lovers. Gelato is a frozen desert. In addition, It is made from sorbet (fruit juice). That’s why it consists of many colors and flavors such as yellow for mango, green for mint, red for strawberry, white for lychee,etc.
Antipasti is often the first part of the meal
Antipasto literally means “before meal” in Italian; antipasti is the plural form of the word antipasto. The antipasto plates consist of a wide variety of cold food such as: sliced meat, olives, mushrooms, vegetables in oil, and several cheeses. Also, this is the typical starter in any restaurant in Italy.
There are rules about pairing pasta shapes and sauce
In Italian restaurants you cannot pick and choose the shape of pasta you prefer. Rather, it is the chef who decides what pasta format is best for the sauce they are using. As a general rule, short pasta is for milder sauces that you don’t mind biting into while stronger tastes like pesto is better on long shaped pasta. While there is more freedom at home, many Italians keep the rules when cooking for themselves too.
Lobster fra diavolo is not a traditional Italian dish
Lobster fra diavolo also is not a traditional old-country dish. It’s really another Italian-American invention.
Neapolitan Pizza is Unesco intangible World Heritage
Pizza comes in several variations (thin, thick, even fried) but the pizza you eat in Naples, made according to tradition, is so special, UNESCO declared the art of making it intangible heritage!
We hope you enjoyed this selection of interesting facts about Italian food. At Villa Allen, we have a variety of authentic, homemade Italian favorites that can expand your palate and introduce you to Italian food. Contact us to place an order today!
ABOUT ITALIAN VILLA RESTAURANT:
We are one of the premier Italian Restaurants in
Allen, TX, offering home-made
traditional Italian cuisine. Come visit us today at: 121-B N. Greenville Allen, TX
75002, Phone: 972-390-2189