Fake Sicilian/Italian Food and how to avoid it
You are visiting for the first time Sicily, you’re in Palermo enjoying the amazing view of the Cattedrale and you’re really walking through history, but all of a sudden you’re super hungry, and you go to the first Restaurant that you can find. The restaurant looks nice, it looks like is a family business, you can see and smell fresh ingredients in exposition.
It’s time to order your food, so you have a look at the menu and everything looks “wrong”: there’s not a single dish that you recognize. The waiter is coming your way and with his weird Italian/Sicilian-English is trying to take your order, and there you go.
You: Spaghetti and Meatballs.
Waiter: Together? Impossible.
You: Fettuccine Alfredo then?
Waiter: Who’s Alfredo? Ehy guys (to the kitchen), do you know who’s this Alfredo he’s talking about?
You: Then I would like a Pepperoni Pizza.
Waiter: That Ok, pizza with peppers.
You: No, Pepperoni!
Waiter: Right, Peppers, that’s what I said!
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Then you end up with something completely different from what you were expecting but are you sure that you ever tasted in life real Italian food before then?
It is normal to find many variations of a certain type/style of food around the world, especially if that food is extremely famous as the Italian food is and usually, and the main reason of those variations is that those flavours are being adapted to the local needs.
Is it something fair? We don’t think so, not 100%.
We are not part of those people without any mind flexibility when it comes to cooking, the other way around we would say that we are quite open, creative and willed to explore new tastes: but there are things that you can’t simply change because, in their simplicity, they’re perfect – or, if you’re doing that, you should be fair enough in not calling that with a name that is misleading.
You may are thinking right now “what the heck are they talking about?”. Fair enough, we’ll provide one simple, but very efficient, example.
Watch Chef Gino D’Acampo freak out when his TV co-host is telling him that she puts salad cream into Bolognese Sauce..
Pasta Alla Carbonara
Pasta alla Carbonara: The recipe is simple and the ingredients are just four: Pasta, Eggs, Pecorino cheese and Guanciale (or Pancetta). Is literally one of the simplest (but tastiest) Pasta ever made.
Now, do you have trouble finding the Pecorino or the Guanciale? We can understand that, and then it’s fine if you use similar substitutes: Parmigiano or Pancetta, they’re easier to find. But you do not twist the recipe and add Cream, Mozzarella and Prosciutto ham, you just can’t.
I mean, of course, you can but you shouldn’t call that “Pasta Carbonara”, it simply is another pasta dish, with cream, and generally called “Panna e Prosciutto”. Preserving our traditions is something very important, and that’s why I’m always very upset when I see former “Italian Chefs” serving a “Carbonara” with cream and bacon, and still call it a Carbonara – you are lying to you and your customers, and that can’t be right!
It is very important for the Italian Cuisine to fight that phenomenon that is called “Italian Sounding“, the imitation or counterfeiting of Italian agri-food products abroad. And we are not talking only about recipes and restaurant. But also in shops, with products that present a mix of Italian names, logos, images and slogans clearly attributable to our beloved country but that in reality, they have nothing to do with it.
We are pretty sure that this has happened to everyone at least once, especially when you’re trying something you never had before because is not from where you’re from, so make sure to always check the source of the food your buying, and read as many as you can on real Italian Food Blogs (Like SicilianFoodCulture)!
We will always be here to help make the right choice!