There's nothing quite like Italian food. That delicious red (or white!) sauce, drizzled over scrumptious hand tossed noodles, topped up with some absolutely savory meatballs. Take a step back, though. Sorry to say, but that's not an Italian dish! Many of the items that you have come to know and love are actually Italian American dishes, not straight Italian. While there have been plenty of myths and rumors that have arisen regarding the origin of some of these dishes, this article serves to bring them to a rest. Included throughout the course of this article are 5 Italian dishes that are actually Italian American.
Spaghetti With Meatballs
Nothing says "Italian cuisine" like spaghetti with meatballs. Unfortunately, spaghetti with meatballs is not an Italian dish at all. Spaghetti is, of course, a staple of any Italian's diet and the placement of meatballs is quite common when it comes to Italian cuisine (many Italian forms of lasagna are filled with tiny hand rolled meatballs, for example), but never have the two met on Italian soil. Italian Americans actually came up with spaghetti with meatballs and not their brethren on the shores of Europe.
If you go to Italy and request a slice of pizza with pepperoni as the active topping, chances are, you're going to receive a slice of pizza with peppers on it. This is due to the fact that the term for pepperoni is quite close to that of pepper in Italy. Although quite popular in Italy now, pepperoni pizza first made its appearance on the shores of North America. That's right, what many people assumed was an Old World classic is in fact as American as you or me.
Italian Wedding Soup
Italian American couples that decide on getting married love having Italian Wedding soup at their proceedings. However, it is highly recommended that you don't request this for dinner, or at a wedding, next time you're in Rome. Although you can occasionally find it under the name Minestra Maritata, Italian wedding soup is rarely found in the Old World. However, ask any old school New Yorker for some of the good stuff and you're bound to find it.
Chicken or Veal Parmigiana
If you ask for any form of parmigiana that involves any form of meat whatsoever in Italy, you're going to get a few weird looks from the natives. Chicken or veal does not belong in parmigiana; only vegetables do. In fact, there's only one vegetable that the sauce flows over and that is eggplant. In some parts of Italy, you might be lucky to find a chef who will be willing to prepare the dish for you with ham, but those are few and far between. Chicken and veal parmigiana is an Italian American original.
Italian Salad Dressing
Italian salad dressing must be an Italian original though, right? It's name is "Italian", right there in the description of the food. Nope, it's not! Italian salad dressing is an Italian American original and didn't originate in Italy at all. Real Italian salad dressing is actually a much simpler affair than that which you will see on the shelves of your local grocer. Italians tend to dress their salad with extra virgin olive oil, salt and a bit of lemon. Anything else should not be considered "Italian dressing". In fact, the real title of this condiment should be "Italian American dressing".
Hopefully, this article has served to put a few myths about the origins of your favorite "Italian" foods to rest. Next time you decide to go to an Italian restaurant, such as Ynot Italian, you'll be able to tell how Italian the food really is!