Italians and their relationship with food

After a fun trip to the US, we were gathering the bounty of our weedy garden, and set to cooking. We were eating a garden salad, roasted rainbow chard, polenta crusted baby zucchini, and homemade fig gelato, when my very Italian husband had himself a bit of an epiphany regarding the important difference between Italians and Americans, and waving his arms about he made the following proclamation:

“Italians have a straightforward relationship with food.  Everyone can cook, and it’s not a big deal, it is part of life.

You want to make pasta?  It’s pasta, tomato, oil, and garlic.

You want to make pizza? It’s dough, tomato, and basil, that’s all!! You don’t need a layer of pesto!

You want to make pasta e fagioli? You boil beans with sage, salt, oil, and pasta and you have a meal.

What’s the best food in the world? Bruschetta! It’s bread, oil and salt. With a good wine.

That’s my idea of straightforward. ”

gianluca proclamation

Gianluca with delicious bubbly wine and fresh picked homegrown garlic

And there you have it from the horse’s mouth.  Or the funny Italian man’s mouth, whatever.

I think he is right. Americans tend to complicate everything. They all seem to cook their polenta with chicken broth and sage.  They put too much garlic in their pasta sauce and three bazillion toppings on their pizzas.  Because I am American, I do the some thing at times because I can’t resist a heaping pizza piled with peppers, banana slices, garlic, tomatoes, and whatever else I scrounge up.

But Italian food is simple at heart.  There are usually between 3 and 5 good quality ingredients and it is fabulous. Why overcomplicate a good thing?

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6 Responses to Italians and their relationship with food

  1. arwen July 7, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    ….but… i LIKE lots of garlic!!!!!!!

    • Annie July 7, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

      Me too! I think part of what my husband was ranting about was in response to how I cook since I have a tendency to do use a tons of garlic and put too many toppings on my pizza! But I font think it is a crime to want to eat more vegetables, even if it is ‘non Italian’. We are Americans, after all!

  2. Barb July 7, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    Yesterday I found a fast food bag someone had thrown out in my GARDEN!!!! The receipt said: chicken nuggets 99 cents, large fries 99 cents extra big cheerwine $1.79, total $4.04. I hope they pilfer some of my squash and beans! Love your epiphany, Gianluca.

    • Annie July 7, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

      Oh that makes me so sad. I hope they pilfer something healthier, and know how to cook it!

  3. Mike July 19, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

    Agreed! Sadly in the US if you want simple, with good ingredients, it’s considered special or gourmet or fancy and you have to pay more. People in SF pay ridiculous amounts for good Italian food that would be considered just the norm back in Italy.

    Also, is it strange that I read all of Gianluca’s words above in an Italian accent? 🙂

    • Annie July 19, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

      That makes me sad… simple food shouldn’t be expensive! Maybe I need to move to the US and open a reasonably priced Italian restaurant :).

      It is awesome that you heard Gianluca’s accent while you were reading; I was hearing his accent in my head as I was typing, so maybe it came through a bit!

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