From pizza to pasta, Italian food is a favorite all around the globe. For good reason, Italian food is considered to be amongst the best cuisines in the world, and there are many traditional Italian dishes that are hard to beat. Nonetheless, it may surprise you to learn that the majority of your favorite Italian dishes are completely unheard of in Italy and were instead created by chefs in other countries. For starters, the pizza you're familiar with was actually created in the United States. Not that pizza doesn't exist in Italy, but it's definitely nothing like the delivery or frozen pies you love, especially when it comes to pepperoni pizza, as there is no type of Italian salami called pepperoni and the word itself (peperoni) actually means pepper in Italian. Still, it doesn't end there as there are a huge variety of other pseudo-Italian dishes out there, and here are three of the most loved.
Spaghetti alla Bolognese
If you go to Italy in search of Spaghetti Bolognese, you'll be sorely disappointed. It's true, the Bolognese sauce does originate in Italy, specifically the Bologna region, however, this richly delicious mixture of ground meat and tomato sauce known as a ragu would never, ever be served in Italy with spaghetti, but instead another type of pasta such as tagliatelle. In fact, the Bolognese ragu was invented in the north of Italy, while spaghetti comes from the south, and these two distinct food cultures very rarely mix. Still, the differences don't end there, as traditional Bolognese ragu has much less tomato sauce and is cooked down to where it simply coats the pasta instead of being the typical runny spaghetti sauce we're all used to.
Just like with Spaghetti alla Bolognese, Fettuccine Alfredo is another "Italian" dish that no self-respecting Italian would ever prepare. The popular Alfredo sauce—made with butter, cream and parmesan cheese—was purportedly first created by a Roman chef, however the truth of the matter is Italians have never heard of the dish, except through visits to Italian restaurants in other countries.
Chicken or Veal Parmigiana
Both Chicken and Veal Parmigiana or Parmesan are examples of a traditional Italian dish that was converted into something else. This dish typically consists of a thin piece of veal or chicken that is breaded and fried, then covered in marinara sauce (another "Italian" food you'll never find in Italy) and parmesan cheese. Similar to Spaghetti alla Bolognese, this dish does have some roots in Italian cuisine, except that true Parmigiana is made using only eggplant, caciocavallo cheese, tomato and basil. In fact, you'd almost never find this dish containing any meat, except in a few parts of the country where ham can be found between layers of eggplant. While you may be forgiven then for thinking that this means Eggplant Parmigiana is the real thing, it still isn't quite what you'd get if you ordered Parmigiana in Italy.
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By gabriele monti
Gabriele is a dedicated food writer and he writes for the food blog at www.emiliadelizia.com