In this video-lesson we will talk about a topic that’s very, very close to the hearts of Italians. As you know, food is an important part of our culture, and exactly because we are “the homeland of good cooking” we care a lot about our culinary traditions, that however can’t be followed by everyone. In this lesson i will tell you about 10 dreadful unaccettable mistakes that many foreigners (and not just them) make when they try to cook Italian dishes.
How not to cook Italian dishes
Surely you have also noticed that, repeatedly and often, abroad, many foreigners try to replicate Italian dishes with poor results. Some so-called “Italian” restaurants sell as “Italian” some dishes that a true Italian wouldn’t dare to eat even with a gun to his head.
But the real problem is that too many foreigners try to cook Italian even in their own houses, and if they don’t know Italian they’re forced to follow recipies written in their own countries , with the risk of losing the true essence of the recipe in the translation. Thus, i tried to gather the most dreadful mistakes you can make while trying to cook Italian dishes, based on the ones I heard myself.
DON’T TOUCH THE PASTA
The first 5 most dreadful mistakes concern making pasta.
- Time is money. I think it’s important to first highlight that the cooking time written on the package of the pasta is there for a very good reason: pasta takes exactly that time to be perfectly cooked. And the cooking time shown refers to the time needed to cook the past in boiling water! this means that the pasta has to be put (or “calata”) in the water while it’s boiling, and not before! A little extra: the salt (which must always be put even if just a little) has to be coarse salt, and must be added once the water starts boiling, before putting in the pasta.
- The bundle. A terrible mistake is that of draining the pasta as soon as it’s cooked and not adding any seasoning or sauce or at least a drop of oil! Cooked pasta releases a lot of starch, so if we don’t add a bit of a fatty seasoning we will find ourselves with a bundle of sticky pasta, sometimes even tasteless. Pasta must be ALWAYS seasoned. If you have already heated the seasoning, that’s great: just dive the pasta straight in and mix it well before serving it. Otherwise you can eat it in bianco meaning with just a drop of raw oil or with a bit of butter. And don’t forget about the grated Parmigiano!
- Oil in the water. Many people try to solve th eproblem of the sticky bundle of pasta by adding oil to the cooking water. Well… IT DOESN’T WORK! There is no reason to do it, precisely because as soon as we drain the pasta, we will dive it into the seasoning, and there won’t be any bundle of sticky pasta.
- The seasoning. It is also essential to specify that pasta can’t be seasoned with the first thing you happen to have at hand. For example you can’t season it with… I don’t know, blueberry juice. There are rules for for this as well. And they are rules that matter, and a lot, to Italians, almost more than our lives. Pasta, with ketchup, is a no-no. Same goes for Mayonnaise. Pasta must be seasoned with a sauce, which could be tomato sauce, pesto, cheese sauce or veggie sauce or something like that. And remember, pasta must be IMMEDIATELY put in the seasoning, and if there are leftovers, it is stored in the fridge with its seasoning, never apart.
- I’ll leave the latest unbearable sin to the Italian culinary culture written right here, in bold, right in the middle, so that you’ll never forget.
There is NO cream in the carbonara.
And no, i don’t care if that makes it creamier or whatever. If you want to call it carbonara, forget about cream. The secret for a creamy carbonara is the right ratio between egg yolks, cooking water and grated pecorino.
GET THINGS DONE RIGHT
- The fifth mistake is about pairings: in Italy tradition would want the meal to be, normally, comprised of a first course, a main course and a side dish. Appetizers (before) and dessert (after) only in special occasions. Or when we are really hungry. But the point is that different courses should NEVER be mixed with each other, for no reason, unless we are talking about a specific and unique dish (like rice with chicken and curry, or cous cous with different sides, but truth be told, they are not even Italian dishes!). Traditional Italian recipies (like pasta with tomato sauce, risotto, pasta with pesto, gnocchi with cheese, lasagna, pasta al forno and so on) must always be eaten as a first course, and can then be followed by a main course, that will be eaten afterward. This means that if you made, for example, risotto as a first course, and then chicken with peppers as a main course, it’s absolutely and strictly FORBIDDEN to put chicken and peppers in thesame dish as the rice. To us it’s also a matter of respect for the single course: putting everything in the same dish spreads chaos among the flavours, thus ruining the taste of the food.
ODDITIES FROM THE WORLD
- Garlic bread. If you ever went to an Italian restaurant in a foreign country, especially in the Netherlands, in Belgium or in Germany, or even oversea, in the USA, you probably noticed that, before bringing the food you ordered, the waiters often bring you garlic bread. Well, just so you know, in Italy, no Italian restaurant serves garlic bread before the meal. Nor during it. Nor after. Garlic bread is an American invention, that has no relationship with Italian cooking. Garlic bread is very tasty, no doubt about that, but it definitely isn’t a traditional Italian food!
A STRIKE TO THE HEART
- Another horrible mistake concerns our beloved pizza: this is probably the most representative food for Italians, just as much as pasta, and that’s exactly why we care so much about the fact that the recipe of pizza is treted with respect. Pizza is made with tomato puree or tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and various toppings, but the most traditional pizzas are Margherita (usually with just some leaves of fresh basil), ham and mushrooms, 4 cheese, 4 seasons, capricciosa (ham, mushrooms, olives and artichokes), tuna and onions, ortolana (with grilled vegetables) and diavola (with pepperoni). Now, the frozen pizza that you can find abroad in any supermarket, isn’t really the best example of Italian pizza. Let’s just say that calling it “pizza” would be extremely offensive to any true Italian. Especially when, on that pizza, abroad, they put pasta or pineapple on top. I always wonder “come on, who in their right mind would buy pizza with pasta or pineapple?” but sadly I realize that if supermarkets selle them, then someone must buy them. Please, don’t be that “someone”. I’m asking you with all my soul.
TRADITION MUST BE RESPECTED
- Lastly, we can’t forget about coffee. A most famous “mistake” that many foreigners make, is to completely water down coffee. By now, unfortunately or fortunately, this mistake is so spread out that it gained its own name: caffè americano. In this instance I admit that it’s a matter of taste, and that the espresso may be a bit too strong for most people, and that it takes time to get used to it in order to really appreciate it. Anyway, what’s important is to call things with the proper name: if you want to drink an americano, nobody forbids you from doing it, but you can’t call it an espresso!
Ah, speaking of coffee, my boyfriend and I made a beautiful video in which we show you all the types of coffee you can drink in Italy: espresso, cappuccino, marocchino, espressioni, caffellatte, etc… you should definitely watch it. It’s very entertaining because we went to a bar in Rome to do the shooting, so you’ll also be able to feel the mood in Rome in these tiring times.