Authentic Italian Food

There are lots of “rules” when it comes to traditional Italian food. And what you may think would be the same for Italian food in the states can be very different than what you’ll find in Italy. Here are 14 things to never do when cooking or eating in Italy.

Note: We base our conversation a lot off this original blog post: http://www.retale.com/blog/culinary-sins-according-proper-italian-chefs/

Topics we cover:

 

Now, the all important “don’ts” when it comes to traditional Italian food in Italy.

1. Don’t add oil to pasta water

Paul and I agree with this one. It’s totally not necessary. While your pasta should have salt to flavor the pasta, the oil doesn’t serve any purpose while you’re boiling it. It will help as a sauce afterward, and maybe slightly as a non-sticking agent, though you should be tossing your pasta with your sauce right away after removing from your boiling water.

Stir your pasta occasionally while it’s cooking and your should be OK.  Be sure to stir spaghetti and other fine pasta right away when adding to your water to keep it from forming a large spaghetti log.

And have plenty of water in the pot so the pasta can move around.

Paul believes you should add the salt after the water has come to a boil. Steven doesn’t necessarily agree. Find out why.

2. Don’t ever mix cheese and seafood

This is another one right on the money, except for a key recipe shown below. Never ever add grated cheese to a seafood pasta dish. The restaurant will give you grated cheese if you ask for it, but they’ll look at you as barbarian tourist.

The one except I point out for this is Mussels Genovese. Recipe below. NOTE: This is the name the people here in our region of Puglia call this recipe.  I’m sure every region is different.

Essentially, as Paul points out, this is like making a frittata, however it’s still breaking the rule.

Mussels Genovese
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A delicious, simple way to enjoy mussels. The amounts and the ingredients here are more estimations. Use your judgement when making.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. of mussels, halved
  • 6 Eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons grated cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Pepper
Instructions
  1. Place the mussels (you only need the half with the actual mussel in it) in a flat bottomed frying pan so the mussels are facing up. Add a bit of water to the bottom of the pan and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and let cook about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile mix your eggs, cheese and parsley in a bowl. Add pepper to taste, but don't add an salt. The cheese and mussels will have enough. When the mussels are ready, pour the eggs over them in the pan, recover, and let cook until the eggs are cooked, about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Here is where you would need to used your judgement. You want a thin coasting of the eggs on top of the mussels, but not so much egg that they are completely submerged in a big egg frittata. If you need more, add some more eggs and cheese. And hold back if it looks like you have too much. Use the leftovers for an omelet the next day.
  4. Serve and enjoy.

A lot of adding the cheese to a pasta is a habit we’ve all formed, just wanting to add cheese to pasta before we’ve even tasted it. However, in this case, the cheese just overpowers the flavor of most delicate seafood and Paul says it’s just not “kosher.”

There are other exceptions here, but as Paul points out, they really aren’t Italian dishes. Do you know an exception we missed? Let us know in the comments!

3. Don’t top pasta with chicken

Traditional Italian FoodThis one’s totally right. Those dishes you see being passed off as Italian at the big Italian restaurant chain, well, they aren’t very Italian.

We couldn’t think of a single pasta dish that even includes chicken. In fact, Italians aren’t really big on chicken in general.

And, by the way, there is no such thing as Chicken Parmesan or Chicken Parmigiana here. It doesn’t exist.

4. Don’t serve bread and butter

Traditional Italian Food No Bread and butterVery very true. They may cook with butter up north, but they really don’t do the bread and butter thing.

Bread is set at the table so you have it to act as a scarpetta — the little shoe — to scoop or mop up any remains on your plate. So don’t go eating all the bread before your meal is even served!

Also, as we’ve said before, there is no dipping your bread in extra virgin olive oil here. Just wait until you get home and enjoy some of our oil with some good crusty bread.

5. Don’t order ‘Spaghetti Bolognese’ or ‘Fettuccine Alfredo’

Well, you might find them in touristy locations, like Rome and Milan, who make Italian American dishes for the tourist, but they aren’t traditional Italian food.

To be honest, I did not know this about Spaghetti Bolognese. And, maybe I’m still too American, but I see no problem with it. There are certain pastas that do go with certain sauces, as they help carry the sauce better, but in this case I think you are OK.

Traditionally, the blogger said tagliatelle is served with the Bolognese, but I’ve always done rigatoni (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rigatoni). I like how the thick meaty sauce can get trapped more inside the pasta.

And we agree that Fettuccine Alfredo, the most famous “Italian” dish in the U.S., is pretty much unknown in Italy.  In the words of Madeline Kahn, “It’s trew. It’s trew.”

6. Don’t ever order or eat spaghetti with meatballs

Traditional Italian Food no spaghetti and meatballsThis combination just does not exist in Italian cuisine in Italy.

Meatballs can be found in a pasta forno or a ragu, but it’s not something you serve with spaghetti. Ever.

Oh, and here we mention Paul’s Mother’s Ragu recipe. You’ll find that here: http://www.livingvillacappelli.com/connie-cappellis-ragu/

7. Don’t put ketchup on pasta. Never. Ever.

This one happened to us when we had some Swedes visit. I still can’t believe it happened.

Who does this? If YOU do, leave us a comment below, but beware our wrath!

Oh, and here’s a link to our Sun-Dried Tomato Spread we talk about: http://villacappelli.com/collections/antipasta-aka-appetizers-1/products/sun-dried-tomato-spread

8. Don’t treat pasta as a side dish

Pasta is a primo (first course after anti-pasti) or MAYBE a main dish, but it is never, ever just a side dish.

That big ol’ Italian food chain restaurant in the states serves pasta as a side dish if you order something other than a pasta as your main course.  At least it used to. I haven’t been there is over 20 years.

Paul also talks here about how we eat things separately here in Italy. You usually have only one part of your meal on your plate at a time.

I grew up never letting any food on my plate touch each other and only ate one thing at time.  So I’d eat my meat, then my green beans, then my mashed potatoes. And they could not touch!  Maybe I really am Italian.

Paul also talks about other guests we had that mixed their salad with pasta. Enough said on that.

9. Don’t consume a cappuccino at any time except for breakfast

We’ve talked about this many times before. Italians just think the milk is too heavy to have after a meal. It won’t aid in your digestions.Traditional Italian Food No cappuccino after breakfast

Now, for breakfast, it’s a whole meal in itself. Especially up north.

10. Don’t ever disrespect tradition

“Nonna knows best. She learned the recipes from her nonna, who learned from her nonna, who learned from her nonna and so on and so forth.”

This might as well be written in stone.

11. Don’t use true balsamic vinegar on your salads

We talked about this more in depth in that last episode: http://www.livingvillacappelli.com/031-why-your-italian-food-is-probably-not-real-food/

Also, check out our balsamic here: http://villacappelli.com/collections/italian-conserves/products/5-year-aged-balsamic-vinegar

12. Don’t make or eat thick crust pizza

Thick crust pizza is really more a focaccia.Traditional Italian Food No thick crust pizza

Here, the pizza is more marriage of the thin dough, tomato sauce, cheese and toppings. It’s not all about the bread. And you can really taste every ingredient.

Most of the pizzas in the states are there to fill you up with a bunch of bread, as it’s cheaper than the toppings.

Here’s our pizza crust recipe.  Try it and discover the difference.

Villa Cappelli Pizza Dough
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A very simple, light pizza dough. The crust will be crisp when cooked in a really hot oven. The recipe can be doubled or more without any problems.
Author:
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • ¾ Cup Warm Water
  • 1 teaspoon yeast (or one packet of 7g quick rising yeast)
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Mix the warm water and yeast in a bowl. Let sit for a few minutes. Then add your flour and salt to the bowl. Mix until comes together and is forming a ball.
  2. Turn the dough onto a well floured surface. Wood is best. Just not something cold, like a cold marble counter.
  3. Kneed the dough for roughly 3-5 minutes until it very elastic and springy. Add more flour or water during this time if need be. But you rarely need more water. If it seems dry, just keep mixing. It will eventually come together.
  4. Turn the bowl over on the dough and let rise for 1.5 hours.
  5. Break into four equal parts and roll into smaller balls. Let these rise another hour under and warm dish towel or the like.
  6. When ready, roll into a very thin crust, about a ¼ inch thick and about 8 to 9 inches in diameter. Top lightly with sauce, cheese and toppings. Do NOT add too many toppings or the crust won't be able to hold it when you are eating.
  7. Cook in an extremely hot oven. At least 500°F or more. For our wood-burning pizza oven, this cooks in about 3 minutes. For home ovens, it will probably take you 5 to 10 minutes.
  8. To bake your pizza, slide it on top of a baking stone or upside-down sheet pan. Bake until the cheese is melted, the crust is golden, and there is some charred bits on the top and edges.

 

 

13. Don’t eat your salad BEFORE a meal

Traditional Italian Food Salad after a mealThe salad, and the roughage you find in the salad, helps you digest after a big meal.

It’s all about digestion in Italy, and this is no exception. You won’t even find many places that will give you a side salad during your meal.

14. Don’t put any dressing on your salad other than extra virgin olive oil and vinegar

Ranch. Thousand Island. French. You just can’t find it here.

This probably goes back to the fact that you are eating the salad at the end of the meal. To add a bunch of heavy dairy or sugar after eating a big meal would just fill you up., where as the vinegar almost acts as a pallet cleanser.

What do you think? Did we miss a don’t when it comes to traditional Italian food? Let us know in the comments or leave us a voice mail.

Join the thousands getting weekly Italian tips, tricks, deals and more.

Powered by ConvertKit
Previous article031: Why your Italian “food” may not be real food
Next article033: 19 Great Italian Travel Tips
You might think growing up in a small town in Texas wouldn't prepare you to live the Italian lifestyle. But in many ways — the family values, the small town culture, the love of food — is very similar to what you'll find in Italian culture. In fact, I expect it's pretty universal. Having been married to an Italian for 20 years, it's been fun to learn and explore the rich Italian culture and share it with you.

79 COMMENTS

  1. Great article things as a Italian American we have known all our lives ,but the third and fourth generation Italians have lost the traditions we grew up with.thank you for reminding us of what we who learned those traditions from the parents and grandparents who were born in Italy thanks again.

    • My dad was born in Italy and came to the US in his thirties.
      I don’t remember anything about foods touching each other, isn’t that a Jewish thing with dairy,coshur and non coshur foods. Also we have meatballs with our pasta. What is the difference between ragu and sauce. And in italy, isnt the tomato sauce called gravy
      I am just curious on these things that I did not know.

      • Hi Linda, the foods not touching each other isn’t a super strict custom. It’s more about having one dish at a time. First your pasta, then your meat, then maybe a side. They will put the meat and sides on the same plate a lot of times, in my (Steven’s) opinion. Paul might disagree.

        Ragu has meat. Sauce is just tomatoes. Or a sauce could be another addition to your pasta, say you make a peas and onion sauce.

        Gravy is an Italian-American thing. There’s always a big debate on whether the sauce you put on your pasta is called “sauce” or “gravy.”

        • Hi Steven, I’m Italian (from Sicily).
          We call “sauce” (salsa) any kind of condiment for pasta or meat, for example if you make “vitello Tonnato” that basically is a kind of thin sliced roast beef with a gravy made of tuna, capers, mayo or heavy cream, we call the gravy “salsa tonnata” (Tuna sauce). Sincerely the first time I heard the word “gravy” I was in America and I didn’t know what they were talking about. 🙂
          One more little thing, a sauce is something “creamy” like tomato sauce.
          Peas and onion is not a sauce unless you don’t blend them (don’t do this please) 😉 when we put peas and onion on pasta we call it “pasta con i piselli” (pasta with peas) same if we have zucchini and shrimps or anything else that is solid. I hope I was usefull.

        • In Italy we could call the sauce “salsa” or “sugo”..many use these as synonims..but really “salsa” is tomato puree, which you use, together with oil an onion, to make the “sugo”

          And yea, most times you’ll see the 2nd dish (meat, fish), with the sides in the same plate. I also prefer that, it’s faster to reach everything!

      • You mention in your article the north for the foods that you are referring to. What about the south – my dad was born in Malito. My entire family have cooked and served food differently than you explained. We had butter and olive oil with our bread, etc.. Were you just explaining northern Italian cuisine? If yes, thank you for enlightening me to the differences.

        • Actaully, Michelle, these were meant to be more general things you will find all over Italy, with, as some have pointed out, a few exceptions. It’s my opinion, and just my opinion, that a lot of things changed when Italians immigrated to America. Since all their neighbors were eating bread and butter, they incorporated that into their lives as well. That sort of thing.

      • Hi Linda, this conversation is great fun. I love all of these posts. I only want to add my two cents on the gravy Debate. I would be hard pressed to find an Italian emigrie who knows what gravy is as it is associated with pasta. I am second generation Italian with many extended trips to Italia. It seems that the term gravy is used in the north eastern US. The only time I have ever eaten gravy is with my massed potatoes. Lol. Stay well…

          • I agree with Mike- the term ” gravy” is used to describe a tomato based sauce that has meat in it, a meat sauce. And it seems to be a local custom from the NJ/ long island area. I am also 1st generation Calabrese American and I wouldn’t be caught dead using that term. Gravy is the brown stuff you put on meat & potatoes. Also, it’s pasta, not macaroni.

          • Paul and Steven,

            I just listened to your podcast the first time this morning and enjoyed it. While largely different animals, I often find myself mulling over where the ‘line in the sand’ is between Italian and Italian-American food.

            I agree with spirit of John’s post: La cucina italiana is all about elevating and transforming local fresh ingredients to their highest potential. (Also love – italian food is all about love – but that maybe a different podcast topic.) That being said there are some rules around it that make it unique. Thankfully none of these rules are so strict that they take the fun out of cooking and eating in the way that French food does.

            A couple comments on your podcast and people’s comments:

            To flesh out your seafood & cheese discussion. I am not sure if this is an American thing that seeped its way back to Italy or was a preexisting Italian combination (a la your pizza discussion) but I have had anchovy and mozzarella/burrata/stracciatella in a couple of forms at “authentic” Italian places in New York and in Italy. Almost every time I have fiori di zucca fried in Rome it has been stuffed with a small piece of anchovy and cheese. I have also heard of friends being served mozzarella in carrozza in Napoli with some pulverized anchovy over the cheese. Whether this is something done to cater to tourists or not, I am not sure. I just find it interesting that it is listed on the menu is this form whereas fettuccine alfredo con pollo would not be.

            Meatballs exist in Italy. Mainly in Napoli (perhaps as a product of its Greek origin?). It is an aperitivo or part of a stuzzichini spread. But you are right, never with pasta.

            The whole gravy/sauce/ragu discussion: Americans think of those horrible dull powdered packages as gravy unfortunately, but it’s origins are something else entirely. I am not a linguist or historian but I think gravy comes from Italians a 100 years ago trying to explain their food culture to their American neighbors who came from a northern european background. As discussed above at it’s most basic form sugo is meat drippings from a braise or roast that is made into a condemnant to put over a starch (pasta or polenta). Northern Europeans collected their meat drippings from their Sunday roast and made a sauce to put over their dinner they were making the roast for. I think, in order to relate their food to their American neighbors’ (the standard Italian diet of low animal protein consumption and high vegetable consumption was seen as unhealthy in 1900 America), Italians literally translated ‘sugo’ to ‘gravy’ when speaking English. While this made sense to do in 1900 the notion of what is ‘gravy’ in America has changed so much in 100 years that conflating ‘gravy’ and ‘ragu’ does not make sense anymore.

            I had to laugh at your discussion of Italian moms sticking with food traditions. I make a pretty killer lamb ragu. I use many more ingredients than my mother and she always shakes her head when she sees me putting anchovy in my braise. Thankfully I think she thinks I have matured to enough where she doesn’t try to correct me anymore. ha!

            Risotto tip: Perhaps this is more fitting for the comments in your superstition podcast, but follow the advice of my nonna and bisnonna and stir it clockwise when making it – it makes a difference. 😉

            I enjoyed your podcast and look forward to listening to another one soon!

            Best,
            Chad

          • That’s for all that, Chad! There are definitely lots of exceptions to the cheese and seafood discussion. We thought of another after the podcast, which is stuffed cuttlefish. Traditionally stuffed with eggs, breadcrumbs, seasonings and grated cheese.

            I think the anchovy is some of these cases is seen as more a condiment in place of salt and not really as seafood, but that’s just my opinion.

            And I love the gravy explanation. I might use that sometime if you don’t mind!

          • Sure no problem. Use away! (Feel free to credit me though! LOL)

            Also, one other thing came to mind as I am planning dinner. I wanted to flesh out your statement on salad dressing. While for sure Thousand Island or Ranch dressing has no place at an italian table, not all salad dressings are just vinegar and olive oil. I understand you were probably trying to get across that salad dressing is simple and clean and light, but, as with my dinner tonight, Italians often dress puntarelle with anchovy in the dressing. I also have had salads from a siciliana friend who uses pistachio oil instead of olive oil. Again, this is bending the rules a bit but I think it still qualifies as ‘Italian’.

            I forgot about stuffed seppie. That is a good one!

            Love your blog and podcast and thanks for spreading the word on how cool all things Italian are!

          • Oh, for sure use anchovy with puntarelle! It’s the BEST (and only way in my opinion)! It’s not too far from your standard oil and vinegar though, in that it’s not a heavy, creamy dressing like ranch or thousand island. Really the oil and vinegar is making a vinaigrette, so adding a bit of anchovy is like making an anchovy vinaigrette. But yes, there are definitely variations and exceptions to all of these “rules” throughout all of Italy.

  2. Will try the pizza dough recipe…………. I use a grill….I can get it to 550degrees…..roll out thinly, oil one side of the dough slide it on, ioiled side down…….wait a minute for it to blister……brush oil the top…..flip ….add toppings quickly and it’s done in another minute…….Technique works great if you have a good dough to start with.

    • Awesome, Tom. Never thought about a grill. You really need that hot, hot fire for a good crust! We are spoiled with our wood-burning pizza oven which gets way above the 550 mark.

  3. I get very upset when i see people calling Italian food just because it has tomatoes sauce . Thank you for posting this, Keep on doing and teaching Italian Americans how to really eat the italian way. The worse people are these so called chefs who pretend to know how to cook italian.

  4. Would a seafood risotto be served with Parmigiano Reggiano in Italy? The “risotto” I’ve most often seen here in the States kinda seems dry and sticky compared to what I remember from Italy. The only seafood risotto I can recall having in Venice was almost black with squid ink (not a taste I really liked) and definitely did NOT include cheese.

    • No, you wouldn’t add any cheese to a seafood risotto. Say for a vegetable or mushroom, yes. But very little. The creaminess comes from the right amount of starch coming out of the rice as you stir when making it. Something I can’t say I personally have mastered just yet. -Steven

    • That black rice you had in Venice was probably Venere rice. It’s an Italian rice that’s naturally black and goes very well with seafood. NEVER put cheese on it.

      And the secret to creamy risotto…butter. Swirl just a little in at the end. Also works great with pasta sauces. It smooths them out beautifully. I once watched the chef at the Barilla Center in Parma (where they give cooking demos about local foods) put a pound of butter into a huge pot of risotto made with Parmigiano Reggiano, taste it, and then add another!

    • Hi David, didn’t mean imply they never eat it, just that they don’t seem to eat it nearly as much as Americans. However, this is based mostly on our experience in the south.

  5. I Love a good grated cheese whether it be Provolone,Asiago,Reggiano etc. I Love it so much that I must break tradition without any guilt. If it has red sauce it’s getting cheese !

  6. Bolognese ragout on anything but tagliatelle just does not work … LOL … and spaghetti and meatballs is right up there with Bermuda shorts and white gym shoes —- you can always tell the English-speaking nationalities in Europe .. while European men are wearing long pants and loafers in 90-degree temps, only Americans/Brits/Aussies are wearing shorts. … and, my friends … THAT is why Italian men always look sexier, more self-confident, more suave … it’s the PANTS, I tell ya,’ ….

    • Michael, we HATE you. Only because I wasn’t watching when you when you made your risotto. I keep trying, but, I need your skills to perfect the dish!!

  7. This is the largest collection of horsedump that I’ve ever heard! What planet did you guys come from? You have no idea about Italian food!

    • Sorry you feel that way, Jim. Have you ever been to Italy? Perhaps you have had a different experience somewhere else in Italy?

      • Don’t listen to him Steven, my husband was born in Italy and every thing you said here is 100% TRUE! Especially the NO cheese on seafood!! I still remember the look I got when I got the cheese out when my MIL made linguine and clams! Never serve pasta with the meat in it, always after the pasta has been eaten then serve the meat. And ALWAYS salad comes LAST!! We have been married 37 years, passing the traditions to our son..

  8. Funny how anyone can claim anything in Italian food to be “authentic”, a food culture that has embraced the tomato and spices that are products of the New World and the Far East. I was raised in a north American Italian household, and much of what we ate reflected “food stretching” during hard times. If that isn’t the actual Italian experience than nothing is. Italian food is not gourmet or a subject of French-like snobbery, it is about sharing a meal with family and making it through another day.

    • That is very true, John. Maybe it would be better to just say “traditional,” and that can be different from household to household. These are just what we’ve seen in Italy and what any visitor can expect to find when visiting, which may be different from what they have experienced in the states. And “food stretching” is a way of life for us and everyone in the south. It’s just part of the culture. You don’t throw anything away. Any leftover ragu you use to make a pasta forno the next day or cook some bull’s eye eggs, etc.

      • Not just “the States” ;). What you say about the south is very true, my grandparents were from Calabria, they weren’t worried about meat and pasta on separate plates, they were just grateful that there was meat available.

        • I was thinking the same thing! My family came from a very small town in southern calabria and there wasn’t a lot of “rules” when it came to food. I read that pork is or was more of the staple meat vs anything else because it was cheap meat. I still enjoyed the article for the information.

  9. I enjoyed the article and I must say that I live in Italy, and chicken is everywhere- whole, quartered and many macelleria’s have stacks of chicken cutlets, plain, breaded, breaded with nuts, etc. Additionally, there are giro rosto’s that sell roasted whole chickens and I’ve often seen chicken on menu’s- wether they’re high end restaurants or just your average place.

    • Very true, Giovanni. I guess what we meant was that compared people in the US, who eat a ton of chicken, here it’s eaten maybe once a week at most if not once every couple of weeks. But maybe that’s just our experience in Puglia.

  10. Interesting article, I certainly learned a few things. I’m definitely trying the pizza dough receipe, but I’ll hand stretch…rolling is a big no no if you want any bubbles which my kids love and fight over.

  11. Pasta is a “primo” … not a “primi” (the first is singular, the second plural). I guess you could say “pasta is the most popular of the primi” or something like that.

    • OK Anrie, noted and corrected. Sorry, the post are written by, me, an American with Italian as a second language, so I miss some of those points. – Steven

      • Same for me … I’m sure I’d make my own, different mistakes. I lived in Italy a few years ago but have forgotten a lot of the langueg But I liked the piece and agree with most of the sentiments and this small error just stuck out to me, so I figured I’d mention it.

  12. My Nonna did make thick crust pizza, she never called it focaccia. I mean it wasn’t 1-1/2cm’s thick but it definitely wasn’t thin. All of the meals she cooked were all handed down & she didn’t leave Italy till her late 30’s early 40’s. So all she learnt wasn’t affected by migration. I do agree with everything else though. 🙂

    • I think we’d agree, too, Tanya. We, well, I mention in the podcast that what Paul is saying is not really true calling it focaccia as they never really put tomato SAUCE on top, just tomatoes and MAYBE cheese. Though, someone in Naples could correct me as I think they do put sauce on their focaccia.

  13. I’m Italian 🙂

    6 -> you won’t find it at restaurants. There are exceptions in regional traditions..my granny was from Sicily and where she made “polpette al sugo” (meatballs in tomato sauce), we’d eat pasta with the polpette tomato sauce as 1st course..and granny would ask “do you want some meatballs in the pasta”? And it would make sense since they shared the same tomato sauce 🙂

    11+14 -> Whereas it’s not a tradition to put balsamic vinegar on salads..Those who don’t like the strong taste of normal vinegar might do and no one will be horrified 🙂

    12 -> Wrong!! thick-crust pizza is also a tradition! when it’s thick all-over we call it “pizza al trancio”. When only the edge is thick it’s the Naples-traditional (the original!) pizza

  14. Basically I agree on everything with a small correction: Cappuccino here is drunk even after breakfast, also in the afternoon. As a snack. Just never at the end of a meal because as you noted milk is protein and fat, and would be like loading more food in your system at the end of a meal. But really the worst thing you can risk is a no in a great 3 stars Michelin restaurant or a discreet eye roll by the waiter as soon as he enters the kitchen.

    On another note, reading your comments I see that you say you haven’t mastered risotto yet. It is easy, once you understand what you’re doing and the creaminess is a combination of rice starch, butter and cheese. The one served in (bad) us restaurant attempt the creaminess that they can’t reach because they use half cooked rice to cut times, by adding Mascarpone cheese -the horror- or heavy cream – ewwww. Give me a shout if yu wanna know more.

    • Thanks, Ale! I actually drink Cappuccino’s myself in the afternoons, but as you said, not after a meal. For me, it’s exactly that, a “snack.” And thanks for the advice on the risotto. I’ll keep trying. The butter might help as I wasn’t adding any of that, and getting my timing down.

  15. Pasta is a “primo” not a “primi”. Primo is short for primo piatto – first dish. Primi is plural – first dishes. Just as there is no such thing as “a cannoli”. It’s a cannolo or a biscotti , it’s a biscotto. Loved reading this!! Grazie!

  16. Rule n.9 is quite wrong or should be re-written.
    I am from Rome born and grown up there and well-travelled around hte country. The thing you don’t usually do in Italy is to order capuccino where you are at the RESTAURANT after you have eaten and ONLY..and only at a restaurant.
    When you go to a normal bar have seen ordering/drinking cappuccino in the evening too whitout any big issue from the waiters or others…

  17. Also rule n. 11 and 12 sounds extremely wired to my italian taste and from what i have seen doing in Italy since the day i was born…why you shound’t put balsamico in the salad?? and do no eat the crost of the pizza?? This is quite silly

    • Hi Francesco, all we are saying is not to put real balsamic on your salad. That would be one EXPENSIVE salad if you used the truly aged balsamic. And while little goes a lot way, but something that sweet might not be the best on a salad. And we never said not to eat the crust of the pizza. Just that you thick crust is not something you find a lot in Italy.

  18. I’m Italian from Italy. Your article is very good but let me fix a few things.
    I do use balsamic vinegar in salad, and I do have cappuccino whenever I want. I never eat it after lunch or dinner, when my husband and I go for a walk in the weekend, we stop at some bar and I often have a cappuccino.
    So don’t be afraid to order a cappuccino in the afternoon…you’ll just get some weird looks if you have it after a meal.

    I’m from northern Italy, I’ve never heard anyone saying they learned their recipes from nonna. I learned from my mom and my mother in law. My grandmothers never taught me how to cook. We also make variations of some recipes.
    I just eat salad as a side dish. I never eat salad at the end of a meal, and I’ve never heard we eat it to help digestion. Salad is a side dish. If I already have another side dish, I don’t eat salad.
    Pasta al forno or ragù with meatballs are just from southern Italy.

    • Hi Eleonara, thanks for comments. As I think many have pointed out, there are many different traditions all throughout Italy. This is just our experience in the south.

LEAVE A REPLY