There are some dishes that believe it or not are considered Italian in North America that are not actually from Italy. This might be one of the biggest surprise for tourists from North America visiting Italy for the first time. Nowadays to accommodate the request from travellers from overseas some restaurants in the most popular destinations (Mainly Rome) they started serving these North American Specialties. If you find a restaurant that serves these dishes, even worst if they have photos on the menu, stay away it is a tourist trap!
- Spaghetti and Meatballs: this is probably the most chocking. It does not exist in Italy it was invented in the US by Italian immigrants at the beginning of the 20th centuries.
- Fettuccine Alfredo: This dish was invented by a Roman Chef, Alfredo. in New York City in the 50’s. The closest you can find in Italy is: Quattro formaggi sauce
- Veal Parmesan: This dish is probably derived by the Sicilian Eggplant Parmigiana dish, but it Is not found in Italy
- Garlic Bread: The closest you can find is the Tuscany style bruschetta that is hosted bread rubbed with raw garlic, salt and a drizzle of olive oil. On top of that is not common at all in Italy to eat pasta with bread. Italian usually don’t have butter for bread on the table and believe it or not they don’t have oil and balsamic for dipping either.
- Latte: if you ask for a latte in Italy you will get a glass of milk! Latte in Italian simply means milk. The drink you get in North America is a Latte Macchiato a glass of steamed milk and a shot of espresso.
- Spaghetti Bolognese: in Bologna the birthplace of Bolognese sauce they will never ever serve it with spaghetti! The traditional way is with tagliatelle pasta.
Other dishes might exist in Italy but they are usually much different from their American counterparts. Usually much simpler without a ton of cheese or sauces.
Another huge difference is the fact that Italian food is very localised, a dish you find in one city might not exist outside a 50km radius from that city. When you visit an area in Italy ask what is the local specialty and try that you will have a much better experience.
Italian food is also very seasonal, based on ingredients that are at their peak in a particular time of the year, or to the fact that rich heavy food is usually served in winter while in the summer it is more light and cold food.
PS Pizza deserves a post on its own 😃 👍🏻