My husband Max is Italian. Being married to him for the last 9 years and having travelled to Italy more than a few times I have learned a few things about Italian cuisine. I would like to share some of my experiences and observations with you.
Max learned how to cook from his mom. She learned how to cook from her mom. They are both great cooks. When we were dating his mom came to visit and prepared lunch for us daily. I still remember him saying “Don’t get used to it”, ha, ha, ha. Ten years later he’s still cooking lunch and dinner, and I have been spoiled ever since we started dating.
Italians put eggs in their pasta. I first tried eggs in my pasta in a city south of Naples named Sorrento. To me it seemed quite strange how they made the carbonara dish, but after I tried it I fell in love with the cream sauce, eggs, ham and cheese mixed with the pasta. Sorrento also is known for a type of liquor that is well known to the area, limoncello. It is liquor often served after a meal made with lemon rinds, alcohol, water, and sugar. I love this too! My husband eats carbonara at restaurants here in Los Angeles, not quite as good as in Italy, but it okay for American standards. My mother-in-law also makes homemade lemoncello. Yeah!!
Italian pizza. I grew up in Indiana. At the time my vision of pizza was Pizza Hut. When I travelled to Europe with a friend before my job as an au pair in Switzerland we stayed with an Italian family in northern Italy for 3 or 4 days. It was soccer and pizza night and I wanted a pizza with ham and pineapple. That is when I learned the word ananas (pineapple). Everyone thought I was crazy because apparently Italian people did not put pineapple on their pizza back in the 1990’s. I ordered another type of pizza and was amazed when I received my own individual thin crust pizza! I have eaten many Italian style pizzas since and remember being most amazed with the pizza made in Naples. Talk about delicious. Max likes to eat tuna on his pizza and sometimes an egg too (sunny side up). Yes, they sometimes put an egg on top too and let it bake. I haven’t tried this type of pizza yet, but he loves it!
Wild Boar. The majority of Max’s family is in northern Italy, Florence to be exact. A popular meat in this area is cinghiale (wild boar). When I first tried wild boar I enjoyed it immediately. I have eaten it as a sausage and also cooked with sauce. I always look forward to returning to this region to eat this delicious meat.
Milk and cookies. American’s eat cereal with milk or perhaps an American style breakfast with eggs, bacon, toast, etc. A typical Italian breakfast consists of milk and Italian breakfast cookies or Italian toast (similar to melba toast) with jam. Mulino Bianco brand makes many of our favorites and luckily we have an Italian market in town which imports this brand of yummy breakfast cookies. Max would not be able to live without them!
Italian restaurants. When I grew up an Italian restaurant was Olive Garden. I still enjoy an occasional visit to the Olive Garden, although I haven’t been in at least 5 years, but Max will never step into this establishment since it is 100% American Italian. We have quite a few good Italian restaurants in Los Angeles. They serve many of the dishes that the kids and us love. Aren’t we lucky that we have some authentic choices in town to hold us over until that next trip to Italy!