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TheTen commandments of Italian Cooking

The first time I saw a child putting ketchup on the lasagna I had just taken out of the oven I couldn’t refrain myself from screaming “Noooo you can’t do this!” The mother of the poor creature apologised saying, “I’m sorry I know it but this is how he likes it”.

After many years of tolerating outrageous bad cooking  and imprudent misuse of Italian ingredients, some of the basic rules of Italian cooking have been put on paper.

Parma based “Accademia Barilla” has issued the ten commandments of Italian cooking. So from now on if you drink cappuccino with your meal and not for breakfast or you use risotto as a side dish, be aware that Italians will regard you as a savage.

Even though most of the rules are already of public domain, now there is a written list of the main no-nos to be avoided when approaching Italian food.

1 - Never, ever sip a cappuccino with meals.

Coffee and cappuccino are the pride of Italians in the world, but coffee is consumed at the end of the meal and cappuccino for breakfast together with a sweet (preferably a croissant or biscuits). 

2 - Risotto and pasta are not side dishes.

Pasta and risotto are served as a unique and individual dish (except for specialties such as Osso buco alla Milanese). To serve pasta next to other food is considered sacrilege in Italy.

3 - Do not pour any seasoning in the cooking water of the pasta.

All seasonings should be added only once the pasta is drained and served in a dish, absolutely never added to the cooking water.

 4 - Ketchup on pasta: please, you can’t do it...

Adding ketchup to pasta is considered a true culinary crime.

5 - Spaghetti Bolognese? Not spaghetti but tagliatelle!

It is probably the most famous dish of Italian cuisine, the most exported , yet there isn’t a restaurant in Bologna which cooks it. This is because the original recipe requires tagliatelle and not spaghetti. In Italian cuisine guessing the right combination of pasta and sauce is a must.

6 - Pasta with chicken, never in Italy.

One of the most famous recipes regarded as " typically Italian " , is pasta with chicken. In Italy no one would serve a dish like that.

7 - " Caesar salad ".

This salad, which takes its name from its creator , Caesar Cardini, is one of a long list of dishes created by a chef of Italian origin, but unknown in Italy .

8 - The red and white checked tablecloth does not exist.

For some strange reason this tablecloth is associated with Italian food and eating spaghetti. All the Italian restaurants abroad use it, but in Italy you’ll find it only in restaurants for tourists.

9 - " Fettuccine Alfredo " are famous only overseas.

Fettuccine Alfredo is the most famous Italian dish in the US but it is totally unknown in Italy. These noodles, served with butter and Parmigiano Reggiano, were in fact invented in the Bel Paese by Alfredo Di Lelio, a restaurant owner in Rome, but have never been popular or have become a " traditional dish ". Yet overseas they are incredibly popular and have become a symbol of the Dolce Vita. American tourists who arrive in Italy hoping to taste fettuccine Alfredo in any restaurant in the peninsula are regarded with disapproval.

10 - Learn the respect for tradition and follow the advice of the mother.

An Italian mum knows how to cook and is going to teach it to her daughter. Obviously in this case you’ll have disputes between daughter-in-law and mother-in-law but this is part of the Italian tradition as well… Just remember that Italian food is always shared with those you love.  

Giulia Lombardo

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