May 20, 2021 by D.Fathia
Updated May 20, 2021
Italian American food: shared heritage and new flavors
When it comes to food you could never cease to be fascinated from time to time. Food would each time succeed in causing awe. No matter how many dishes you have seen, no matter how many recipes you have tried, there would always be a surprise plate that you never heard of or seen before. With food, all you can do is make yourself prepared to be swept off the floor.
We have spoken about American cuisine somewhere else in our blog. As a matter of fact, you cannot get tired of this topic; there is always something new to discover bout this cuisine.
What stands out from American cuisine is not a long-established culinary tradition, but rather the fusion of various cuisines from around the world. Americans take different recipes from different traditions of the world and make changes to them; this would yield fascinating dishes and breathtaking flavors.
One thing that stands out clearly in the United States of America is the influence of Italian cuisine on the local food choices and way of preparing food. So here are a few things to know about this unity.
As a native Tunisian, I have been familiar with a number of Italian foods for as long as I have started distinguishing between different cuisines. The geographical proximity resulted in curiosity to discover and try foreign dishes.
I am very confident that I speak on behalf of all Tunisians when I say that the most famous and adored Italian recipes in Tunisia are pasta and pizza. Even the most conservative families, who cling to our traditional Tunisian food, do not mind a dish of pizza or a slice of pizza from time to time.
We have certainly made changes of our own to the original pasta and pizza recipes. As Tunisians, we adore spices and hot flavors, something lacking in Italian cuisine. We succeeded in inventing new flavors that suit our preferences. But what about the authentic Italian flavors?
The roots of Italian cuisine go back as far as the 4th century BC. It draws from the Greek, Roman, and Etruscan cuisines. Though there are a few encompassing cooking guidelines and dishes that are famous nationwide, Italy enjoys a significant regional diversity.
The country is known for its use of olive oil, cheese, and tomato. Cooking in this style also requires the use of certain spices and herbs such as garlic, rosemary, thyme, oregano, mint, chili pepper, sage, basil…etc. Most of these spices and herbs, if not all of them, are famous across the Mediterranean basin. They are part and parcel of the Mediterranean diet and most culinary traditions of the countries on both sides of the sea.
Italian food might seem a bit bland for some people; the truth is this food simply attempts to bring to light the authentic flavor of the ingredients used in a certain recipe. They do not overuse spices and ingredients and they certainly do not mix a lot of these. Overall, this cuisine can satisfy the appetite of any person no matter what he prefers and what flavors he seeks.
Appetizers are essential in European cuisine. The Italian cuisine certainly has some of the best hot and cold appetizers that you would possibly imagine. Here is a shortlist of our favorite Italian appetizers:
- Caramel corn appetizers: these are made up of microwave popcorn, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, coconut sugar, dairy-free butter, salt, and vanilla.Tomato Mozza: made with mozzarella balls, tomato juice, olive oil, salt, and agar.
- Sesame pork
- Tortellini salad
And the list actually goes on and on. Gastronomic pleasure is endless in this cuisine. So, if you are planning a party, a family dinner, or a simple gathering, you should try some of these savory Italian appetizers and let your guests be taken aback.
Italian American food:
Living in America offers you the luxury of trying different kinds of food. You can have a Turkish western-style breakfast, a Chinese lunch, and dine in an Italian restaurant. However, this food diversity is not really as authentic as it sounds. You should know that a drive to an Italian restaurant will not permit you to enjoy an original spaghetti dish, but rather Italian American food choices.
Reasons for the difference between the two kinds might go back to the fact that most Italian food that became famous in America was advertised by the earliest Italian immigrants. At the time, trade was not that sophisticated and might be even absent, and local producers in the new world were still discovering. Hence, some ingredients might have not been found and thus people had to use other alternatives.
Immigrants originated mostly from Sicily and the southern parts of Italy. The foods of these regions, which Americans know as Italian food, differ significantly from the food of the northern parts.
The Italian American food is spicier than the Italian dishes. It uses more garlic, meat, and cheese, while vegetables and fresh produce are more abundant in the original recipes.
One person on Fodor’s Travel Talk Forum said that: “In the US, the pizza is covered with cheese or with cheese lots of other toppings. I never found such in Italy. Usually, we could see the dough popping through. Also, some do not have tomato sauce or has very little.”
The bottom line, adaptation is the key to serving savory food. Every variety has something different to offer and that’s worth discovering. Italian American food is a combination of two heritages and a fusion of different tastes.