If you are considering a trip to Italy, you are in for an exceptional treat in the way of Italian food. Hailed as some of the finest cuisines in the world, and ubiquitous all around the globe, Italian food features the finest local ingredients, specialized techniques, and a punch of flavor. However, if you would like to experience the real deal, here are a few Italian food faux pas to avoid, whether you’re in Italy or America.
Cappuccino is a delicious coffee that is laden with fresh, foamy milk, and the Italians love it – for breakfast. It is seen as very filling and can be difficult to digest, so ordering it at any other time than the morning is seen as a very bad idea. Instead, for your after-dinner coffee, choose espresso. If you prefer a milky coffee, a macchiato is considered a good substitute.
Too Much Cheese
If you visit an Italian restaurant in the US, you will most likely be asked if you would like fresh Parmesan cheese added to your dish. In Italy, this does not happen nearly as often. Dishes are served according to the chef’s specifications and most do not need extra cheese. Especially avoid putting cheese on seafood dishes, as this is somewhat taboo.
Drinking Something Besides Water or Wine with a Meal
Wine is often at the heart of Italian cooking. It often goes into the dishes themselves, but it is also an important part of the mealtime experience. The right wine can bring out the delicate flavors in a dish and enhance certain textures. If you are not a wine drinker, choose water instead. Soft drinks and juices are seen as too sugary and will mask the flavors of your chosen dishes. One exception would be beer, which works well with pizza or fried snacks.
Know What to Order
Italians pride themselves on their traditional dishes. However, with the spread of cuisine around the world, non-Italian chefs have changed or invented recipes that are no longer considered Italian by locals. For example, spaghetti Bolognese is not an Italian dish and will not be found in the country; Fettuccine Alfredo exists in only a couple of small villages and most restaurants will not know what it is. Carbonara consists of eggs and cheese instead of cream, and Hawaiian pizza was invented in Canada. When in doubt, order from the menu you are given and don’t argue what you think should be on it.
Italians are very clear about how they design and serve a dish. Each one is plated on its own and you will never have two different dishes on the same plate, as is common in the US and the UK. Instead, antipasti, first course, the main course, and side dishes will all be served separately, in order, and on separate plates.
While it can be difficult to find an Italian restaurant in the United States that stands by these “rules” of the meal, there are locations where it is possible to find an authentic meal. If you are in the Boston area, head to the historic North End to find some of the finest Italian dining experiences at Nico Ristorante.