Since I moved to the UK 6 years ago, most of my conversations are about “proper Italian food”: not that I go around restaurants investigating all ingredients listed in their carbonara, it is more like people asking me for tips and secrets of having food “the Italian way”. I do enjoy all sorts of cuisines, but I admit that I love my country’s food, so I am always very happy to give some advice and enjoy the surprised faces I get when I explain that in Italy, latte is not exactly what you get from Starbucks (explanation below).
So here are the 5 Italian Way golden rules:
–Cappuccino doesn’t belong to lunch
Cappuccino is for breakfast only. Having your lunch with cappuccino is a no no no no in Italy. I understand it is delicious, but having lasagne and a sip of milk and coffee is really frowned upon (no judgement from me, as far as I am concerned there are no rules when it comes to delicious food);
–Nothing gets wasted
There is no way that an Italian nonna will throw food away: there is always a way to use it up to make something even more delicious. Olive oil is used to make soap, breadcrumbs are made from stale bread… Leftover pasta? Mix it with cheese, cover in batter and fry it: you will get a delicious frittatina di pasta
–The seafood and cheese conundrum
Topping seafood pasta (or any pasta with fish) with cheese is almost forbidden by law: if you ordered spaghetti with clams and ask for parmesan cheese, the waiters will think you are joking! Imagine my surprise when I moved here and found out that a very popular dish in the UK is “tuna pasta bake”. I still haven’t tried it yet, but I promised myself that at some point I will give it a go!
La scarpetta is an almost holy ritual. After eating pasta or a saucy meat, the delicious sauce can’t be wasted (see point above), so italians do the “scarpetta”, which translates as “tiny shoe”: all you need is a piece of bread, which is then drowned into the sauce and eaten with no shame whatsoever. It is definitely not elegant, but it is a very good way to show appreciation of the food just served
–I suggest you don’t order a latte in an Italian Cafe
So here is the uncomfortable truth I had to reveal over the years: if you order a latte in Italy, you will get 2 things, in this exact order:
-a frowned/confused face
-a mug full of hot or cold milk
The reason is that latte in Italian literally translates as “milk”, while the drink that people are looking for is “caffelatte“: a brew made of espresso and steamed milk (usually served at breakfast only, like cappuccino).
These were the most common points I always find myself discussing when it comes to Italian food, but there are some more that I will share in another post! Do you have any golden rules when it comes to food? Let me know in the comments!