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. ”
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?