1) Pairing pasta with garlic bread
Ever found yourself wistfully searching the menu for your favourite buttery garlic bread side when eating out in Italy? It doesn’t exist! In fact, spreading any kind of butter on bread in Italy is almost unheard of. The closest thing the Italians have to garlic bread is bruschetta: lightly toasted bread rubbed with a garlic clove and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.
2) Not mixing your sauce into your pasta
If you wish to adopt the truly authentic Italian way, there is a simple yet game-changing art to achieving the perfect sumptuous pasta-and-sauce consistency. Once you’ve heated your sauce, turn off the heat and transfer the slightly ‘al dente’ pasta straight into your sauce-pot. Transferring your undressed pasta onto the serving plate first means it is far more likely to stick together, making it much harder to mix afterward. Instead, slowly stir everything together, cooking your pasta for a further 1-2 minutes in the steaming sauce, which will enhance the overall flavour while ensuring an even coating of sauce. You can even add a splash of pasta water here, if required. Once you’ve added the pasta water, be sure to cook for another minute or so to get an extra creamy sauce.
3) Pineapple on Pizza
This is a sin for many of us Brits on principle but, in Italy, pineapple on pizza provokes culinary outrage. It is not, as you might think, due to the sweetness of the pineapple. In Rome, for example, you will often find figs on pizza during the late summer months, particularly if paired with ‘formaggio di capra’ (goat’s cheese) or gorgonzola. The problem, instead, is that tomato sauce and pineapple are both acidic which makes for an improper pairing.
4) Snapping your spaghetti in half
*Sighs in Italian* - If you want shorter pasta, why not choose the delightfully twisted trofie or perfectly ear-shaped orecchiette? There is simply no need to snap the perfectly-measured lengths of spaghetti. Much like linguine or tagliatelle, spaghetti is designed to be twisted round into parcels of perfection on a fork!
5) Not cooking pasta al dente
Tired of watching your pasta devolve into a soggy clump? To avoid this culinary devastation, we recommend cooking your pasta ‘al dente’. Literally translating as ‘to the tooth’, ‘al dente’ pasta boasts a little bite. Not only does this ensure the pasta keeps its shape, but pasta cooked ‘al dente’ takes longer for the body to digest, meaning you will feel full for longer. The basic rule of thumb is to check your pasta two minutes before the designated cooking time.
6) ‘Spaghetti Bolognese’.
To put it simply, ‘Spag Bol’ is not a traditional Italian dish. If you are craving a rich and hearty meat sauce on your next trip to Italy, we invite you to order ‘Ragù alla Bolognese’, a classic Italian dish typical of the city of Bologna which is made minced beef, red wine, vegetables and aromatics. Just don’t expect your ragù to arrive served with spaghetti: the long, wide shape of ribbon-like pasta, such as tagliatelle or pappardelle, prove the ideal vehicle for heavier sauces, as the wider surface ensures no delicious morsel goes uneaten.
7) Cappuccino after 11am
Want to evade raised eyebrows when visiting Italy? Avoid ordering any milk-based coffee after 11am. As milky coffees, such as cappuccino and latte, are considered part of breakfast, drinking them later in the day is not acceptable - particularly straight after a meal!
Instead, Italians survive on quick espresso boosts throughout the day. So, if you want to blend in like a local, simply order a ‘caffè’, or ‘un doppio’ if you prefer a double shot. Alternatively, ‘un macchiato’ is also accepted; ‘macchiare’ is the Italian verb ‘to stain’ and so the drink is considered to be literally an espresso with a ‘stain’ of milk. This small amount of milk in your espresso is allowable after 11am.