So, As a frequent traveler to the States, here’s my non-exhaustive list of the main differences between Italian food culture and American-Indian food. I am sure there could be more. Comments are super welcome!
Italian Food Culture vs. American-Indian Food Culture
1. Garlic. So, The strong smell of fried garlic on the premises of a US Italian restaurant is THE tell-tale sign of Americanization. Additionally, You can tour every region of Italy, and you will never experience that strong attack on your most delicate sense. Also no restaurant in Italy will probably know what you mean if you order “Garlic bread.”
2. Quality of ingredients. Especially herbs (because of their perishable nature, it make more sense to use local – or dried – equivalents) and cheeses (because of cost). However, Authentic mozzarella or Parmigiano Reggiano is light-years away from their imitations. You can even verify for yourself if you have access to real imported ones. Additionally, Basil from the Genovese riviera or tomatoes from Sardinia has an exceptional taste. Moreover, Not surprising, the Italian spice that became most popular in America is dried oregano. It can be in stock and transported without any problems.
3. Contaminations. I am not going to start a religious war, but certain combos are complicated to find on real Italian menus. Americans also seem to have a particular penchant for combining chicken with everything (pasta, pesto, eggplant parmigiana.). Also, pasta served as a side, although not necessarily American, is undoubtedly horrifying to Italian eyes. Furthermore, Pineapple or pickles or any sauce different than a tomato on pizza should be illegal (although TBH I’ve seen pineapple offered as a novelty at Italian pizza spots).
Few More Differences
- Myths: there is no such thing as Alfredo or Marinara sauce (but there is a Marinara pizza, which is probably where it got its name from). Bolognese sauce (proper name: “Ragù alla bolognese”) is not for serving with spaghetti (instead of with Tagliatelle, ribbon-shaped egg pasta with a completely different texture that matches much better one of meat chunks in the sauce). Pepperoni generally doesn’t exist in Italy. Our spicy salamis are not that sweet.
- Structure. So, A complete Italian meal is by an antipasto (appetizer), a primo piatto (pasta, rice or soup), a secondo piatto (typically meat or fish), with a contorno (side) of veggies, follows by fruit and dessert. Sometimes, two of them will combine in a single recipe. Milanese saffron risotto with ossobuco counts as primo and secondo. Eggplant parmigiana as a secondo probably won’t need aside as it’s load with veggies, fruit, and dessert – especially. It’s gelato – can be served together. This is way more structured than the typical US and international convention of appetizers+entrees. On a side note, sides (excuse the pun) are for serving in their dish, and it’s usually up to the customer, not the chef, to decide which side they want with their meal.