Coming from a very Italian family, I’ve grown up on an almost exclusively Italian diet for most of my life. I’m not a picky eater (and I just love to eat in general), but I am something of a food snob. I blame it on the amazing food that I’ve been spoiled with since birth, and the family-owned Italian restaurants from my hometown that never disappoint.
Naturally, my roommate hears the most of my typically Italian food rants. But I’m definitely not the only one with these opinions – chances are, if you’ve ever lived with with someone who is Italian, you’ve probably heard most of these common (sometimes passive-aggressive) remarks about food.
1. “This bread sucks”
I cry a little inside every time I have to eat a sandwich on white bread. And forget those fake “lite” variations of bread – nothing can ever substitute for doughy, savory, freshly baked bread drizzled with oil and served warm.
2. “I miss my grandma’s sauce”
Ah, sauce. No two family recipes are quite the same. I can differentiate between the sauce of my mom, the sauce of my maternal grandma, and the sauce of my grandma on my dad’s side with just a quick taste test. But they’re all delicious because they’re all fresh and perfectly seasoned. Good sauce is essential for a good pasta dinner, but unfortunately nearly impossible to find on campus.
3. “Dominoes isn’t real pizza”
Chain restaurant pizza just can’t get it right. Don’t get me wrong, when it’s 2 am and you’re craving something cheesy, ordering Domino’s or Papa John’s is probably the best and only option. But it’s not the real thing. Family-owned Italian restaurants do the best job of making pizza. The rule of thumb is that if you can’t watch them make it, it’s probably not the best place to get it.
4. “Where can we get zeppole?”
So simple, yet so delicious. Zeppole are just dough fried in oil and sometimes sprinkled with powdered sugar. That’s it. But for some reason we only can only get them at local carnivals or (once again) in grandma’s kitchen. This staple dessert is a classic Italian comfort food. If you’re willing to get your hands a little dirty, here’s a recipe to try out.
5. “They undercooked the pasta”
It’s gotta be al dente. Mushy pasta is disappointing pasta. And you can’t cover it up with the cheese or sauce – firm, perfectly cooked pasta will stand out on its own. These tips can show you how to do it right.
6. “I used to eat dinner early on Sundays”
This was one of my personal favorite traditions. And I’m not alone – this NPR story provides a great description of its appeal. Every Sunday, we’d go to my grandma’s house and eat a big dinner at 3 pm, always featuring one of her classic recipes. You could always count on having a lot of carbs and a lot of leftovers. Now I have to rely on Skype to stay connected with this Sunday tradition, since my college friends prefer eating dinner during actual dinner hours (but where’s the fun in that?).
7. “Yes, I’m ordering chicken parm again”
It doesn’t get old. A good chicken parmigiana is super satisfying. I can look at a menu full of different options for 10 minutes and my eyes still revert back to this one. It’s usually cheap, delicious, and pretty hard to mess up. The only thing that might attract stronger attention is chicken parm pizza.
8. “You’re pronouncing ‘ricotta’ wrong”
I cringe whenever I hear a particularly American pronunciation of certain foods. In my house, if you didn’t add the Italian accent, you’d face a few minutes of mockery. Other common perpetrators are “mozzarella,” “antipasti,” and “bolognese.” Sure, they taste the same no matter how you say them, but you have to admit that a European flair enhances everything (check out this guide for some help).
9. “We’re not going to Olive Garden”
Nope. Just don’t do it.
10. “My mom’s is better”
This kind of goes without saying, but saying it is sometimes necessary. Nothing can match what mom makes. Not even when it’s penne from a box or garlic bread made in the toaster oven. This is a big part of why I look forward to coming home during break – homemade Italian food is unlike anything else.