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What NOT to do in Italian Cuisine!

Updated: Dec 13, 2018

If you want a real, authentic Italian dining experience, DO NOT do this!

1. Don’t add oil to pasta water

It’s totally unnecessary. Your pasta should have salt to add flavor, though oil serves no purpose whilst boiling. It will help as a sauce afterwards and slightly as a non-sticking agent, but you should toss your pasta into the sauce immediately after removing it from the boiling water.

Stir your pasta occasionally whilst cooking and it should be fine. If you are cooking with spaghetti or any other fine pasta, remember begin stirring right away once putting it in the water to avoid big clumps of pasta.

Tip: Ensure there’s plenty of water in the pot so the pasta has space to move around. Also, salt pasta to taste once removed from the water.


2. Don’t ever mix cheese and seafood

This is a regrettably common mistake. We implore you to never, EVER, add grated cheese to a seafood pasta dish. If you ask, the restaurant will give you grated cheese though will look at you as an insane tourist.

Adding cheese to pasta is a habit we all seem to develop, even without thinking whether or not it’s actually needed. However, the cheese simply overpowers the delicate flavors of seafood and won’t allow you to properly experience the chef’s creation


3. Don’t top pasta with chicken

Not much explaining needed here, just... don’t do it. Those dishes you see being passed off as authentically Italian are not all they’re hyped to be.

We couldn’t think of any Italian pasta recipe that includes chicken, in fact, Italians aren’t really big on chicken in their meals in general.

Oh, by the way, Chicken Parmigiana? No such thing.


4. Don’t serve bread and butter

They may cook with butter up North, that’s correct, but Italians don’t really go for serving bread and butter.

Bread is placed on the table to be used as a Scarpetta (the little shoe) to scoop or soak up any remains on your plate. So don’t go eating all the bread before your meal is served! And remember, we don’t do the whole dipping bread in olive oil thing.


5. Don’t order ‘Spaghetti Bolognese’ or ‘Fettuccine Alfredo’

While you might them in touristy locations like Rome and Milan, where restaurants are more Italian-American based, these dishes are not traditionally Italian.

The famous Fettucine Alfredo, the U.S’ favorite Italian dish, is pretty much unknown in Italy. Just saying.

And we agree that Fettuccine Alfredo, the most famous “Italian” dish in the U.S., is pretty much unknown in Italy. In the words of Madeline Kahn, “It’s trew. It’s trew.”


6. Don’t ever order or eat spaghetti with meatballs

This combo is unheard of in Italian cuisine. Meatballs can be found in a pasta forno or ragu, but it isn’t to be served with spaghetti. Ever.


7. Don’t put ketchup on pasta. Never. Ever.

This one happened to us when we had some Swedes visit. We still can’t believe it happened.


8. Don’t treat pasta as a side dish

Pasta is a primi (first course after anti-pasti) or MAYBE a main dish, but it is never, ever just a side dish.

Those big ol’ Italian food chain restaurants serve pasta as a side dish if you order something other than a pasta as your main course.

We eat things separately here in Italy. You usually have only one part of your meal on your plate at a time.

We grew up never letting any food on our plate touch each other and only ate one thing at a time. So we’d eat the meat, then the green beans, then the mashed potatoes. And they could not touch! Maybe we really are Italian.

We also talk about other guests we had that mixed their salad with pasta. Enough said on that.


9. Don’t consume a cappuccino at any time except for breakfast

Italians have found that milk is just too heavy to be drank after a meal and it doesn’t aid to your digestion. Though when it comes to breakfast, a cappuccino may as well be a whole meal, especially up North.


10. Don’t ever disrespect tradition

“Nonna knows best. She learned the recipes from her Nonna, who learned from her Nonna, who learned from her Nonna and so on and so forth.”

This might as well be written in stone.


11. Don’t make or eat thick crust pizza

Thick crust pizza is really more of a focaccia.

Here, the pizza is more of a marriage of the thin dough, tomato sauce, cheese and toppings. It’s not all about the bread. And you can really taste every ingredient.

Most of the pizzas are there to fill you up with a bunch of bread, as it’s cheaper than the toppings.


12. Don’t eat your salad BEFORE a meal

The salad, and the roughage you find in the salad, helps you digest after a big meal.

It’s all about digestion in Italy, and this is no exception. You won’t even find many places that will give you a side salad during your meal.


13. Don’t put any dressing on your salad other than extra virgin olive oil and vinegar

Ranch. Thousand Island. French. You just can’t find it here.

This probably goes back to the fact that you are eating the salad at the end of the meal. To add a bunch of heavy dairy or sugar after eating a big meal would just fill you up, where as the vinegar almost acts as a pallet cleanser.

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