8 Real Italian Dishes to Order instead of the American Knockoffs

fettuccine al burroWhen Americans think of Italian food, they tend to think of pepperoni pizza, garlic bread, and chicken Parmesan. But all of those dishes are actually Italian-American hybrid foods created by Italian immigrants who were cooking with U.S. ingredients.

In other words, what we think of as “classic Italian” is not actually from Italy at all.

We rounded up some ways to go more authentic, whether it’s in your own kitchen or on your next trip to Italy.

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Ravioli: An Easy Italian Dish

Everyone loves Italian food especially if someone else makes it. But in last Sunday’s televised edition of Oksana’s Island Kitchen, Italian was made easy.

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The 7 Most Common Mistakes When Cooking Pasta

cooking pasta boiling waterBy Patti Mays

According to a recent pasta survey taken among Italian chefs and experts – these are the 7 most common mistakes most people make when cooking pasta…

1. Not using a large enough cooking pot

This is probably the most common “pasta cooking” mistake. The very minimum that the experts recommend is four quarts of water for one pound of pasta. But Italian chefs and pasta experts use more than that; between five and six quarts of water for each pound of pasta. This gets the very best results.

Why is all that water necessary? Because pasta needs enough space to move around in order to cook properly. Not using enough water causes the pasta to stick to the side of the pan, which makes it thick, sticky and unpleasant. When you use enough water you will definitely notice the difference in the taste and texture.

2. Adding oil to the cooking pot

It is hard to determine just where this idea came from originally but 44 per cent of Americans say they add olive or other oil to the cooking water. I suspect the idea is that the oil will stop the pasta from sticking together. But what it actually does is make the pasta too slick for any sauce to stay on it properly. If you have used enough water and remember to stir your pasta regularly as it is cooking, it will not stick together. Therefore – no need to add oil.

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Benvenuti a Bergamo

By Marjorie Eisenach

Eccoci a Bergamo! While arriving in Bergamo via a brief flight from Birmingham, England, I started to reminisce about my first arrival in Italy over 40 years ago. As a college junior I had taken an overnight train from Paris, arriving in Milan early in the morning in one of those old fashioned sleeper cars that held six individuals in slings attached to the compartment walls.

Sleep deprived after nine hours in a train, the central station in Milan seemed like a combination of Dante’s inferno and an amusement park with smoke billowing in the cavernous space and pigeons winging their way to the lofty top of the station roof. I heard my first word spoken in Italian by an Italian in Italy, facchino, or porter.  

Last night’s arrival was more pedestrian, but had its own highlight and is somewhat indicative of the changes in Italy. I sat next to a young Indian woman on my crowded plane flight, which had been dominated by the wails of an infant who had trouble adjusting to the atmospheric changes in cabin pressure.  I didn’t realize that the Indian woman spoke Italian until we were landing, and we started to chat about her recent day trip sightseeing in London.

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Italian-American Profiles of Success: Matthew Carulli

Photo April 2014Chairperson of the Italian Nationality Room at the University of Pittsburgh

Back in 2007, Matthew Carulli won a scholarship from the Italian Nationality Room at the University of Pittsburgh for a summer study abroad program in Syracuse, Sicily. That trip led to another study abroad trip two years later. Ever since that first trip, Matthew has wanted to give back to the Italian Room’s scholarship fund. He always thought it would be in the form of donating back enough money to fund someone else’s trip, but it turns out instead he was nominated and elected to the position of chairperson in the Italian Room.

Matthew grew up in Burgettstown (Washington County), attended the University of Pittsburgh where he studied Italian and Accounting, and currently lives in Pittsburgh. He works as a Translations Coordinator for eResearchTechnology in Pittsburgh, where he implements translations on electronic devices for pharmaceutical research studies. Matthew has been married to his wife Lorraine, who teaches Italian, for almost three years now.  

Ciao Pittsburgh recently spoke with Matthew about his role as the chairman of the Italian Nationality Room at the University of Pittsburgh, his Italian roots, his favorite Italian traditions and what he likes to do for fun. 

CP: As the chairman of the Italian Nationality Room at the University of Pittsburgh, what are some of your plans in your new role?

Matthew: I would really like to increase the group’s membership to a younger demographic, so we’re trying to do more gatherings like happy hours and events in conjunction with other Italian groups in the city. At our last event I invited back a number of other former winners of the scholarship to share how the scholarship affected their lives, so I hope that the former winners (especially recent winners) become more involved as well.

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