What, Italian food is the best? What about the French? What about the Nordic movement? What about everything that is happening in Spain and Peru? Yeah, yeah I understand how you feel but if you are really honest with yourself and remember some of the most pleasurable, fun and delicious food experiences in your life you will understand what I’m talking about.
1 – THEY KEEP IT SIMPLE
Aren’t we all tired of getting ego driven plates filled with 5-10 ingredients, but no real direction or flavor? Not to mention it’s already only warm or going cold as it’s taken so long to plate with all the different steps. Let’s bring back the days when the focus was on flavor first then presentation – a few beautiful ingredients cooked to perfection that arrives steaming hot to your table. When did chefs stop thinking about elevating natural ingredients and put all their energy into manipulating them, it’s ok if a tomato still looks like a tomato. It seems easier to distort flavors along the way rather than find ways to compliment their natural state. Italians are masters of knowing when enough is enough.
2 – EMOTIONAL EATING
Few things can evoke more joy then a discussion about your first memories eating home made spaghetti Bolognese. The mess you made, the rich delicious sauce that ended up all over your shirt, the table and most importantly your face. Or that time you first visited a real Neapolitan pizzeria and stopped ordering American Pan Style “Pizza Hut Pizzas”. There are so many personal memories and emotions attached to Italian cuisine, if Italy’s different cuisines were religions then the country would be in permeant civil war. Don’t even get me started on listening to a passionate Italian talk about Italian food, it would seem as food itself is an emotion to be experienced.
3 – FOOD COMES FIRST
Italians have big ego’s, but their food doesn’t. When cooking Italian the chef’s ego must play second fiddle to the food. Ever eaten at a restaurant where you are not allowed to swap this sauce for that sauce because the chef said so? Have you ever looked at a plate of food and though am I paying for the chefs baggage or did I just order food? Italian food comes first and it works together, when done properly nearly any and all ingredients are in harmony meaning the possibilities are endless. There are organizations created in Italy to preserve traditional preparation of its most amazing products like Balsamic and Parmesan that are now mass produced all over the world. Real Balsamic is a process that takes years and is by no means cheap, what most splash on a salad today from the local market is a watery imitation.
4 – THEY HAVE GOOD NATURAL MSG
So MSG occurs naturally in a few ingredients, or at least the same chemical compounds anyway. But there are two main ingredients in Italian cuisine that contain very high amounts of naturally occurring MSG – meaning they just make everything taste better! Tomatoes and Parmesan both contain natural forms of MSG and are used as a foundation for so many beautiful Italian dishes. I mean what would Italian food be if only these 2 ingredients were removed from it’s history? It’s the same reason why so many Australians, British and Americans smother their food with some variety of tomato sauce or ketchup. Now you know why your mouth is watering with expectation as the penne ariabata arrives on the table and is being finished with slithers of freshly grated parmesan.
5 – SHARING IS CARING
Who doesn’t love to share their food or even better eat with their hands? There is something about the marriage of flavors that makes Italian food perfect for sharing. If I think of a large family style sharing table with “western style” food it’s always Italian that comes to mind first. The only other cuisine that I consider is Spanish but for me I see tapas more as a light meal or bar food. Italians love to share what ever they have and their hospitality is legendary all over the world. There is a huge difference between great service and authentic hospitality, service is what every restaurant can offer, but hospitality comes from the heart. Also Italians are the creators of what must be the most loved and mass produced sharing dish of all time, the humble pizza.