Birthday Blog

It has been one year already! I started this blog at the end of July 2010 out of sheer exasperation. I felt that Italian cuisine was too often completely misrepresented in North America. Not only was it not authentic (which is understandable this far away from Italy), it frequently tasted plain bad.

With many of its principles distorted, Italian food becomes a caricature of itself. It needs to have olives and sun-dried tomatoes; bread must be foccacia or have flour on it and be called ciabbata; tomato sauce, salami, olive oil, or a balsamic reduction must be involved; there need to be mountains of parmesan and mozza, along with a mix of 20 Mediterranean spices. If short of Italian ingredients, anything Spanish or Greek will be close enough: feta cheese, kalamata olives, even chorizo…

I understand that, just like American English has drifted from British English, Italian food in North America has evolved into its own genre. What I don’t understand is when the adjective “authentic” is still used. If you serve authentic Italian food, please:

  1. Make sure your Italian dishes exist in Italy (there is no Alfredo sauce and Spaghetti with Meatballs is extinct!)
  2. Check your recipes (whole garlic cloves have no business on any pizza!)
  3. Spell-check your menu (once and for all: it’s ‘prosciutto’, not proscuitto, it’s ‘quattro formaggi’, not quatro fromaggio!)
  4. Don’t say something is “Tuscan” just to make it sound more Italian (what is the point of serving Tuscan Chicken Pasta, when nowhere in Italy will you find chicken on any pasta?)
  5. If you serve espresso, don’t feel that you have to fill up that little coffee cup! Half-full is fine – just make sure it’s creamy.

Over the course of the year, lots of discussions were had through comments, and a small but energetic group of friends has formed: Italians living abroad, Italians living in Italy, and foodies living all around the world. Thank you all – you are my source of motivation, and your feedback has been invaluable.

I also would like to thank my fiancée Candace – I owe her many of the considerations on the differences in culture between Italy and North America, and she is a fantastic editor! Thanks, Candace, also for being so patient with me as I got more and more obsessed with this project. I even wonder if this should still be called a blog… on many occasions, writing the articles has required me to do quite a bit of research. But it was fun, and I learned a lot from it.

Looking forward into year two, I am hoping to get the community even more involved. I would like this blog to become a hub for discussions around authentic Italian food and a reference for anyone interested in learning more about it. But for today, I’m just going to open a good bottle of ‘spumante’ and celebrate making it this far!

Thanks all for reading.

8 thoughts on “Birthday Blog”

  1. Auguri!! Thanks for spending the time to research about authentic Italian food. As an Italian I tend to assume I know about Italian food, but I don't know enough and your blog is a little gem full of precious info! Hope your blog will be around for a long long time!!

  2. Congratulations Paolo! I agree with Paola! I love reading your blog and I too have learned a fair bit through it! You know I agree and support your project 110%! I wish you a great second year of blogging!!! 🙂 E abbasso la pasta col pollo!!!!!!!

  3. Manu, Paola, thanks for your support! I feel more and more that I'm on some sort of a mission… and that I'm not alone 🙂

  4. Paolo – Auguri! Here's to a great 2nd year and more thereafter. Love reading your posts and frustrations on some of the things people think are "real" Italian food. Many I share with you. Look forward to reading more.

  5. Auguri to your Blog-Anniversary Paolo. I am glad you told me about your blog, I really like to read it. Having lived in both Italy and North America I can relate to a lot of your experiences. But believe me other countries foods are not treated much better. I think in North America everybody thinks Germans just live on sauerkraut and sausages. And nobody in Europe believes that there are some pretty good restaurants over there who serve more than burgers.

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