3 Common Misconceptions about Italian Food
I've been living in the USA for more than 15 years and I think there are a few misconceptions that I'd like to clear.
Some of them are pretty obvious but
Italian food is different from Italian American food
Of course, immigrants in the early 20th century adapted their recipes to the ingredients that were available there and then. For us today it's easy to find for instance Parmigiano Reggiano, but I can only imagine how it could have been hard back then. For instance, Italian American food usually replaces mozzarella cheese with something that is still called mozzarella but it's drier and not as fresh (see this link).
Immigrants were also mostly from Southern Italy, so Italian-American food is a blend of mostly southern Italian food only, which brings me to the second point
There is no actual Italian Food, but rather many regional cuisines
When I moved to northern Italy to attend college, I was surprised how much my daily diet changed. Italy is divided in 20 regions and each one has had different influences, has different weather and different ingredients, so the cuisine is vastly different. It's uncommon to have polenta in the south, for instance. When friends ask me what Italian restaurant I recommend, I ask them what ingredients they like best. Piedmont has excellent meat, wine and truffle, but it's weak in seafood for instance, while Veneto has both mountains and sea and has a more varied cuisine. Southern Italy, especially Sicily have excellent seafood. And of course, each region has its own wines to pair. When looking for recipes here, you'll see which region they originate from.
Italian food is good but it's so much carbs!
This is one of my favorites. It is just not true. Yes, we love our bread and pasta, but we eat small portions of them. Also, usually we don't eat pasta for dinner, just for lunch. We actually eat a lot of vegetables, and you'll find some excellent tasty veggetable dishes like (caponata)[recipe/22]. When having lunch in Italy, you're supposed to have a primo , a first dish, which is usually either pasta, rice or a soup, and a secondo, a second dish, that's usually meat or fish and comes with a contorno, or side, which is vegetables. We also eat fruit at the end of the meal. Italian American restaurants have adapted to the single-dish-meal and with a huge serving of pasta. A normal portion of pasta in Italy is about 80g..that is less than 3 ounces!