Italian and Italian American: Delicious Divergence

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Posted on: 06 June 2016 by Delfina Donze

Classic Italian cuisine differs from Italian American food in many ways, but both have a great deal to offer. Italian immigrants to the USA, mainly from the south of Italy but some from the north, influenced what is now regarded by Americans as Italian food, but many of the dishes most popular in the USA have been changed dramatically due to the availability of ingredients.

Classic Italian cuisine differs from Italian American food in many ways, but both have a great deal to offer. Italian immigrants to the USA, mainly from the south of Italy but some from the north, influenced what is now regarded by Americans as Italian food, but many of the dishes most popular in the USA have been changed dramatically due to the availability of ingredients.

Salad Dressings

In most authentic Italian restaurants diners one would expect to dress their own salads with a combination of vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Made up vinaigrette type dressings known as Italian dressing are more common in Italian American cuisine and can contain ingredients such as corn syrup and chopped bell peppers.

Bread

The garlic bread that we all know is actually an American version of Italian bruschetta. Traditionally, bruschetta is a slice of toasted bread that has had garlic rubbed over it and been moistened with olive oil. Tomatoes and onions can be included to add to the taste.

Pizza

Pepperoni pizza is the most popular in the USA, but is not usually found in Italy except where tourists gather. Authentic Italian pizzas that can be found in Italian restaurants in Dublin are more likely to be topped with cured Italian meats such as prosciutto. Another difference between Italian American and Italian pizzas is the crust. In Italy the crust is likely to be thinner and crisper than the thicker doughy crust common in the USA.

Meat Sauces

Both Bolognese sauce and Neapolitan ragu are traditionally made from meat, tomato sauce and soffrito, a combination of roughly chopped onions, carrots and celery. The Neapolitan version uses large chunks of meat rather than finely chopped meat in Bolognese sauce and can include a wide range of other ingredients such as raisins, red wine, basil and butter. Contrast this with the “Sunday Gravy” that Italian immigrants brought to the USA. Although many of the ingredients are similar, all different types of meat were used, and simmered with garlic, onions and tomato sauce.

The focus in good Italian cooking is on fresh seasonal ingredients, organic where possible. Authentic Italian dishes can be found in Ireland, including in a Dublin Italian restaurant.

In the USA, Italian food is often seen as comfort food and although it is branded “Italian” it often bears little resemblance to the traditional version.

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Harriet Simpson posted 27 April 2020

Thanks for sharing this delicious divergence of American and Italian American with us. As someone who loves zatar spice, this is great for me, and I'll make sure to share this with my friends, as well. Cheers!

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