When Americans think of Italian cuisine, spaghetti and meatballs in a red tomato sauce comes to mind, but in Italy, Meatballs are rarely eaten in this fashion. Meat was a rarity in Italy and as a result, American style Italian cuisine generally has more meat in their entrees. Portions in Italy are also much smaller than in America. Italians tend to shop daily for fresh ingredients and fresh bread from small speciality type shops. Large grocery chains are not popular. Italians base their meals on what is in season, therefore, many authentic Italian dishes are seasonal based on fresh ingredients. Americans shop at big grocery stores that offer ingredients year-long that are sometimes not farmer fresh tasting.
American Italian cuisine is a result of blending and using what was available after a majority Sicilian Italian immigrants reached the shores of America. Risotto, a staple of authentic Italian cuisine in northern Italy, is a rarity in the United States. American Italian staples like Veal Parmigiana and spaghetti and meatballs perfectly show the blending of authentic Italian dishes based on availability of ingredients.
American pizza has its roots in Italy, but authentic Italian wood fired pizza is completely different from the American version. Authentic Italian pizza consists of a light marinara, fresh mozzarella, and toppings such as artichoke hearts, ricotta cheese, spinach, fresh tomatoes and more. The crust is generally thin and fresh. Fresh mozzarella is not a string cheese and is packed in water.
Italians also eat in a several course meal style where pasta is often the first dish served. Slim on meat and smaller in portions are the definition of authentic Italian cuisine. It is not only seasonal, but regional. Meals often start with an aperitivo which is cheese or olives. Then they move on to an Antipasti like bruschetta. The next dish is a hot dish called primi which is often meatless. Americans generally have one course of piled high pasta with a red sauce or an alfredo sauce. Primi is often pasta, rice or soup. Secondi is where you’ll find your meat and fish.
Sauces created in Italy often have wine as one of the ingredients. Cooking with wine is rare in the United States. Wine generally accompanies larger meals in Italy served with lunch and dinner.
Americans could take a few pointers from European Italians. Italians sit longer and meals are very social. There isn’t a grab and go attitude towards food. Also Italians are more about quality and quantity. Old recipes from grandma’s kitchen are passed from generation to generation and prepared in restaurants all over Italy. Don Luigi’s in Palm Coast prepares their authentic Italian cuisine from recipes passed down for generations. For a true taste of Italy, visit Don Luigi’s. Not only will you be impressed with the flavor, texture, and presentation of their authentic Italian dishes, but you’ll come back to try them all.