Ten Insights into Italian Culture: #7 – Italian Cuisine
Cuisine in Italy is very regional and does not begin and end at pasta and pizza. There is a wide variety of regional specialties ranging from the polenta and rabbit stew of Como, to the risotto of Milan, to the arancini of Rome. Other regional dishes include:
- Risi e bisi from Venice
- Focaccia from Genova
- Cacciucco from Livorno
- Canederli from Bolzano
- Saltimbocca alla romana from Rome
- Carciofi alla giudia from Rome
There are several well-known, so-called “Italian” dishes overseas don’t actually exist in Italy. For example, pepperoni, that beloved, meaty pizza topping, is an American invention. While the word peperoni does exist in Italian, it actually means bell peppers. Similarly, alfredo sauce is also an American invention. The only thing you’re going to get al freddo in Italy is something that’s coming straight out of someone’s refrigerator or freezer.
In the drinks department, latte means milk in Italy, not a fancy Starbucks Café concoction. And soda (or pop, or soft drink, depending on where you’re from) is not a drink that people consume at every meal, but something that may sometimes be ordered with pizza or may be foregone altogether. Whether at home or ordering out, you’ll be served acqua liscia (ordinary tap water) or acqua frizzante (sparkling water), unless you’re ordering the wine.