30 things you didn’t know about Italian food, restaurants and more
Here are 30 fun facts about Italian dishes, eateries and more.
Spaghetti and meatballs is not an Italian dish
Italians do not put meatballs on spaghetti.
The average Italian eats more than 51 pounds of pasta per year
The average person in Italy eats more than 51 pounds of pasta every year. The average person in North America eats about 15.5 pounds a year.
Caesar salad was invented in Mexico
Caesar salad, a combination of romaine lettuce, raw egg yolk, Parmesan cheese and croutons was invented in the 1920s by Caesar Cardini, an Italian restaurateur living in Tijuana, Mexico.
Italians don’t favor Italian wine
Americans drink more Italian wine than Italians do.
‘Buon appetito’ is a pre-meal saying
Before eating a meal, Italians say to each other: “Buon appetito!”
There are more than 600 different pasta shapes
More than 600 pasta shapes are produced worldwide.
Spaghetti wasn’t always topped with tomato sauce
It was not until the 1700s that tomato sauce was included with spaghetti in Italian kitchens.
Pizza was invented in the 18th century
Pizza was invented in Naples during the 18th century.
There are three things that are always on Italian dinner tables
On the dining table in Italian homes, there is always water, wine and bread.
Italian wedding soup is not served at weddings
Italian wedding soup is not a traditional soup served at weddings. It just means that the meat and greens go well together.
Lobster fra diavolo is not a traditional Italian dish
Lobster fra diavolo also is not a traditional old-country dish. It’s really another Italian-American invention.
In Italy, pasta is a once-a-day meal
Most Italians eat pasta at least once a day.
Italy grows more than 300 different kinds of grapes
More than 300 grape varieties are grown in Italy.
Lunch is the main meal in Italy
The main meal of the day in Italy is at lunch time. The word for lunch is “il pranzo.”
The pope once set quality standards for pasta
In the 13th century, the pope set quality standards for pasta.
Eggplant parm is an American invention
Eggplant Parmesan, “Parmigiana di melanzane,” is a traditional southern Italian baked eggplant casserole, but the substitution of veal (or chicken or even shrimp) for the eggplant was an American invention.
Italy ranks second worldwide in wine production
Italy ranks second worldwide in wine production, trailing France, and ahead of Spain and the United States.
Neapolitan ice cream originated in America
Neapolitan ice cream originated in the United States in the late 19th century, and is presumably a reference to the three-layered frozen cream dessert cakes of Giuseppe Tortoni, a Neapolitan.
The USDA once banned imports of prosciutto
The USDA banned imports of prosciutto until 1989. Mortadella and Speck were outlawed until 2000. Other meats, including cotechino and zampone, are still banned today.
Clams Casino was invented in Rhode Island
Clams Casino, the dish of baked clams topped with minced bell pepper, herb butter and slices of bacon, was invented in 1917 by Julius Keller, maitre d’ of The Casino, a restaurant in Narragansett, Rhode Island.
Italians only drink milky coffee in the morning
Italians only drink milky coffee, like cappuccino and caffelatte, first thing in the morning.
Italians eat many things that are not widespread on LI
Italians eat many things that are not widespread on Long Island: snails, horse, donkey, hedgehog, goat, guinea pig, rabbit and hare, wild boar, sea urchin, sea snails, sparrows, peacock.
Garlic bread is an American invention
Although garlic and toasted bread are often paired in Italy (Tuscan “fettunta” is a piece of grilled bread rubbed with a cut garlic clove and anointed with olive oil), slathering a split loaf with oil and minced garlic and baking it is American. Ditto the practice of dipping bread in a dish of olive oil.
Sangiovese grapes make two kinds of wine
Sangiovese is the grape of Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino.
Italian don’t put cheese on linguine with clam sauce
Italians have been known to argue over this, but traditionally do not put cheese on linguine with clam sauce.
Veal Francese was created in America
Veal Francese was created in Italian-American restaurants as a Gallic take on veal scallopini.
Each region in Italy has its favorite ways to enjoy pasta
Each region in Italy has its favorite ways to enjoy pasta. In Rome, two classics are the alla carbonara (with eggs and pancetta, similar to bacon) and cacio e pepe (with cheese and fresh cracked black pepper).
Chicken scarpariello is uncommon in Italy
Chicken scarpariello is uncommon in Italy, although dishes called “scarpariello,” which means shoemaker-style and is a rustic sautee (usually with potatoes and sausage), are made in southern Italy.
There’s a National Italian Food Day
Feb. 13 is National “Eat Italian Food Day.”