Italian Sounding food is a topic that we recently discussed. Fake Italian products have nothing to do with the excellence of our gastronomic tradition. Unfortunately, the same can be said about fake Italian dishes that are still popular abroad. 

Italian cuisine holds an esteemed place in the hearts and palates of food enthusiasts worldwide but a curious phenomenon persists in Italian restaurants in America: the prevalence of Italian-sounding dishes that often bear little resemblance to authentic Italian recipes. These adaptations tend to result in creations that blend Italian inspiration with local preferences in order to appeal to a broad customer base, thus creating a culinary fusion which is not Italian at all.

The perception of Italy as a culinary haven for rich, diverse and flavorful dishes has led to a marketing strategy wherein restaurants leverage the allure of Italian cuisine. Even if a dish is a creative departure from its authentic Italian roots, the use of Italian-sounding names can evoke a sense of authenticity and a promise of a delightful dining experience.

Gnocchi, burrata, cacio e pepe and tiramisù – now fortunately prepared with fresh ingredients imported from Italy – are featured on most menus; yet, alongside them, it is not unusual to still find Spag Bol, Spaghetti with meatballs, garlic bread, Hawaiian Pizza and chicken tossed almost on every dish, really. If the latter is a dish in itself to us (mainly roasted and served for a Sunday lunch) and the real ragù alla Bolognese is a delicious sauce made with veal and pork minced meat typically paired with tagliatelle, topping a pizza with pineapple is a concept we do not take into consideration. Ever. When we crave that salty-sweet mix, usually given by a meat-fruit combo, we opt for prosciutto e melone.

To be fair, we could call it a draw. After all, you win some, you lose some. Still, if one cared to explore the untapped potential of authentic Italian regional recipes, many delicious surprises would be just around the corner.  Chitarrine alla Teramana – just to name one recipe – is the original counterpart of Spaghetti with meatballs: delicious fresh pasta, originating from Abruzzo region, served with tiny meatballs and such a rich tomato sauce that you will want to finish it all with a slice of plain bread. Plain, because garlic bread does not exist. The real deal is bruschetta: a slice of toasted bread, rubbed with fresh garlic and served with a dash of extra virgin olive oil on top. Simpler, healthier, tastier. Since each Italian region boasts a unique culinary identity, there is a treasure trove of authentic regional recipes that could be enhanced and appreciated abroad. Exploring and showcasing these authentic regional recipes could offer a more nuanced and genuine representation of Italian gastronomy.

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