Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Things You Must Know About Italian Cuisine


10 Things You Didn't Know About Italian Cuisine

by Trix Deseo
Dreaming of flying to Italy to taste 'authentic' pepperoni pizza? Can't wait to talk to an Italian waiter and say “prendo fettuccine all'Alfredo, por favore” in your most convincing Italian accent? Chef Davide Lombardi, CCA instructor and head chef of authentic Italian restaurant: Lombardi, warns you against doing so.

Read on to know why ordering pepperoni pizza or Alfredo pasta must not be done in authentic Italian restaurants. Below is a mix of fun facts and debunked food myths that you probably didn't know about Italian cuisine.

1. When in Italy, don't request for Fetuccini All'Alfredo, unless of course, you're in Il Vero Alfredo Restaurant in Rome.

Want a sure fire way to annoy an Italian chef? Ask him to prepare Alfredo pasta!

Alfredo pasta isn't your typical pasta variant like, say, Spaghetti alla Puttanesca. Its history goes something like this: an Italian, Alfredo di Lelio opened 'Alfredo' restaurant in Rome back in 1914. The best seller in the menu? Fettuccine all’Alfredo. Alfredo eventually put up a restaurant in New York and sometime in between then and now, the rest of the world thought that Fettuccine All'Alfredo is a common variant of Italian pasta.

To put it simply, imagine how you'd react when a foreigner requests you to cook Linda's Adobo. You'd probably say “Who the heck is Linda and how am I supposed to know what's her adobo like”, right? That's how Italian chefs feel whenever they're asked for Fettuccine all’Alfredo.

2. Bolognese (pronounce: 'bolonyese') pasta is not spaghetti with tomato sauce and meatballs-- at least, not to Italian chefs and residents of Bologna.

“A Bolognese pasta is not Bolognese if not made from ragù,” Chef Lombardi emphasized. Ragù alla bolognese is made of beef from a cow's plate section, fresh bacon, onions, carrot, celery, very little tomato paste, meat broth, dry wine, milk, salt and pepper and is usually served a top of fresh tagliatelle-- not spaghetti.

Not Bolognese

“It's quite sad for us Italians, especially people from the Bologna region, how overused the word Bolognese has become. Nowadays, just because the pasta is red and with meat, it's Bolognese. Ragu is not even red!” Chef Lombardi lectured.

3. Pizzas are always thin (well, a little thicker when done Lazio style) and should be eaten using your hands.

Italians are particular about their pizzas. Did you know that they even have a bill that specifies guidelines for a traditional Italian pizza?

Lombardi's Pizza Napoletana

Authentic Napoletana Pizzas are thin, non-greasy, and topped with just mozarella, tomatoes, and basil. Lazio style pizzas (the rectangular ones sold on the streets) on the other hand can go just a little thicker.

Chef Davide Lombardi shows you how Italians eat their pizzas

As for the accepted way of eating pizzas? Discard your knife and fork and use your hands, please!

Just last year, Donald Trump and Sarah Palin was lambasted online for eating pizzas using knife and fork; a commenter even said that what they did was akin to drinking beer using a straw. And while no one would really persecute you when you eat pizzas using a fork, it won't hurt if you eat it the Italian way. In fact, it makes your dining more enjoyable. “We usually eat pizzas this way,” Chef Lombardi said, as he folded the pizza slice before stuffing it into his mouth.

4. Speaking of pizzas, don't order Pepperoni pizza in Italy.

“If we were in Italy and you asked me to prepare 'Peperoni' pizza, I'll give you a pizza filled with bell peppers,” an amused Chef Lombardi said. The Pepperoni that we know that has ham slices and all is more American than Italian.

Pepperoni Pizza

Chef explains further, “Peperoni (spelled with one 'p') in Italian means bell pepper. If you want pizza with slices of slightly spicy sausage, ask for Pizza Calabrese. That's the closest thing we have to your Pepperoni.”

5. Authentic Quattro Formaggio pizzas must use four of any of Italy's more than 400 cheeses-- most common are: mozarella, pecorino, gorgonzola, and provolone.

Quattro Formaggio

Chef Lombardi finds it funny whenever he reads a supposedly authentic Italian menu that has gruyere (a French cheese) and cheddar (English) in their 'Quattro Formaggio'.

6. Caesar Salad? Not Italian.

Just like Alfredo pasta, Caesar Salad is not Italy's national salad, despite having the same name as the famous Roman general.

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Caesar Salad is not Italian...

Caesar Salad is a recipe of an Italian immigrant and restaurateur named Caesar Cardini. It was also popularized in the United States.

7. Espresso, a popular Italian method of serving coffee, gives you less caffeine than regular drip coffee.

For real? For real. Lots of online forums will tell you how a cup of regular brewed coffee has about 115 milligrams of caffeine, slightly higher that what you'll get from an espresso: about 80mg so we'll no longer dwell on this.

8. Italians are not as fond of sweets as their neighbors.

“We have quite a few dolce (desserts) but not as many as the French. We have tiramisu, panna cotta, gelato, and a few more,” Chef Lombardi explained.


Most Italians do not need something sweet after meal. According to him, a slice of fruit most often suffices.

9. Italians do not subsist on pizzas and pastas alone.


“We eat different kinds of food just like everybody else!” Chef Lombardi said. According to him, the reason why the rest of the world only knows pizza and pasta is because most of the Italian immigrants to America were from the South: Sicily and Napoli. “When they arrived in America, they cooked spaghetti with pomodoro sauce because the tomatoes are usually used in their region. But there are so much more in Italian cuisine. We eat risotto, veal, pork and chicken, too!”

10. The most expensive truffle ever sold was found in Italy, not France.

Truffle, a rare and expensive mushroom that costs as much as $330,000 a piece, is sourced from Italy. In fact, white truffles-- the more expensive kind, are harvested in Alba in Piedmonte, Italy.

Truffles are best mixed with pastas!

Aside from being incredibly delicious, truffles are expensive because you can't culture them. There's also a specific season for harvesting the shrooms. The global price of truffles depend on how many mushrooms they find that season.

Another fun fact? Pigs used to hunt truffles under the trees. Nowadays, truffle sellers use trained dogs to search for them pricey mushrooms.

Curious to know more about authentic Italian food? Let your taste buds travel to Italy in Chef Davide Lombardi's restaurant, opening soon at Robinsons Magnolia. Lombardi's is set to open up shop on October 28. Visit their Facebook page for more information.
Establishment Info


    With reference of your article we have the pleasure to tell you the history of our grandfather Alfredo Di Lelio, creator of “fettuccine all’Alfredo” (recipe in the world known).
    Alfredo di Lelio opened the restaurant "Alfredo" in 1914 in a street in central Rome, after leaving his first restaurant run by his mother Angelina in Piazza Rosa (Piazza disappeared in 1910 following the construction of the Galleria Colonna / Sordi). In this local spread the fame, first to Rome and then in the world, of "fettuccine all'Alfredo".
    In 1943, during the war, Di Lelio sold the restaurant to others outside his family.
    In 1950 Alfredo Di Lelio decided to reopen with his son Armando his restaurant “Il Vero Alfredo” in Rome, Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30, which is now managed by his nephews Alfredo (same name of grandfather) and Ines (the same name of his grandmother, wife of Alfredo Di Lelio, who were dedicated to the noodles).
    See also the site of “Il Vero Alfredo”
    We must clarify that other restaurants "Alfredo" in Rome do not belong to the family tradition of "Il Vero Alfredo" in Rome.
    We inform that the restaurant “Il Vero Alfredo” is in the registry of “Historic Shops of Excellence” of the City of Rome Capitale.

    Best regards Alfredo e Ines Di Lelio

  2. thanks for the information/clarification....more power!


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