We often become complacent with the food we eat in our busy lives, often not paying any mind to the meal we are eating or where it comes from. On top of this the fact that many of our cultural representations of foods come from chain restaurants and takeaways is an indication that the food we are eating is not actually representative of the one it is imitating – Chinese food for example is nothing like what you get at the all you can eat buffet. In the same way although we have many Italian establishments of varying quality, not many people have had true Italian cuisine. When you do visit, try and fit in some of these three foods to see just how different the genuine recipes taste fro
m what you have tried at home.
This is often shunned as the boring option, the one for the least adventurous, the most basic of choices that sits atop of the menu for picky eaters. Pizza is a different animal outside of Italy, whether its your cheap and greasy local bargain, your wallet damaging, belly breaking premium from a big chain, or even a thoughtless microwave one, they are far from the real thing. Generations ago Italians put heart and soul into creating the finest dough, picking and sieving the juiciest tomatoes and fermenting the most exquisite cheese. All of this combined and carefully cooked in open ovens so that not only the taste but the combined nutrients would make a virtually complete meal, and thus the margherita was born. Pizza lovers owe it to themselves to tread no further than the borders of Naples in their search for a real margherita, soft, salty, savoury and satisfying, this overlooked classic is as good today as its oven baked ancestor, and the reason it is replicated (often poorly) worldwide.
Although this isn’t exactly specific to one thing, pastry outlets in Italy will give you a shock with their variety and profound taste. With a set of quality ingredients you wont find at Greggs, these tasty snacks will have you reevaluating pastries. Whether you opt for flavored cream filled Cornetti croissants, the plethora of small shapes filled with all manner of cheese or the classic Cannoli, you can’t really make a bad decision. Taste as many as you can, because when you leave, they just won’t be the same.
Again thanks to its fairly bland taste profile (and no doubt lack of quality ingredients), the Carbonara is a standard affair at many Italian styled eateries and yet it doesn’t really jump out as the most exciting of options. The reason this dish has survived the test of time however is because back in Italy this pile of Italian ingredients concocted with a rich and creamy sauce tastes entirely different. Firstly, you may discover that the spaghetti itself is slightly different in weight and texture to what you are used to, then the meat that is used is sufficiently tastier. Here Guanciale, which is cured pork cheek, is often used, also adding to the peppery taste. Finally, the use of Pecorino Romano, one of Italy’s oldest cheeses adds its creamier sheep’s milk texture. Try it for yourself to taste and feel the variation.