A few thoughts on REAL Italian food

I´m afraid this post is not what you´d expect. Before I start I have to put a little disclaimer upfront. I´m an extremely picky eater, I´m almost vegetarian (I only eat chicken breast once a week) and basicly dislike all the fancy food, seafood and other delicacies that other people adore. I´m not a foodie and this is simply my personal opinion on the traditional Italian foods and restaurants, an opinion which I know most of you will not share.

Italian food is probably the most popular and beloved cuisines in the world. In the last few years I´ve made several trips to Italy (boyfriend is Italian ;) and like probably most of you would, I was always looking forward to the amazing dishes I would eat. I´ve been to Italy probably about 10 times and my disappointment has just grown bigger and bigger each time I´ve visited. Italian food to me is amazing cold tomato soup with parmesan sprinkles, countless startes I can hardly choose from, rich gnocchi quattro formaggi, lush salads and amazing deserts and gelatos. The truth is, if you are not eating meat or fish your choices are VERY limited when you go out to a real Italian trattoria.... (and don´t even get me started on the looks I get when I tell someone I´m vegetarian... most of the times they look at me like I´m a weird UFO)

My biggest disappointment is probably on the antipasti arena. Tomato soup doesn´t exist, some starters I do like are some of the cheeses they usually serve, but after some tales of some worms in some of these cheeses which is supposingly gives them their good taste... I`ve decided NO THANKS! I usually resert to some grilled vegetables which is just that... vegetables soaked in olive oil and grilled without usually any additional spices.... meeehhhh

Pastas.... I´m probably very unlucky. It has to be it, but although I normally eat pastas when we eat out, I´ve yet to find an amazing pasta I can tell tales about. I had a short love affair with a truffle filled ravioli served in a nut sauce but shortly after I´ve discovered it, they took it off the menu... this clearly describes how my and Italians taste do not match when it comes to food. 

Chicken... I´ve yet to find an Italian restaurant which serves any kind of chicken! NO KIDDING!

Pizza... I´ve had some good pizzas I´m not gonna deny it, but nothing outstanding that I couldn´t find outside of Italy.

Salads... sure you can order a mixed salad but there is certainly no variety.... rocket salad, tomatoes and a little mozarella served with oil and balsamico. (no other choice of dressings)

Desserts... OK me and Italian desserts are still friends, but then again I´m an ice cream addict so I could live on gelato alone and I have to give it to them... they know how to do their craft!

My biggest down in the appreciation of the Italian kitchen came a few days ago.... we were looking to have breakfast at a little buffet where it turned out that the most popular sandwich which most of the people in the queue ordered (and there was a queue for it!) was filled with horse meat. I´m choking just writing this down. While I was watching my friends enjoying their horse meat sandwich I started to cry. I´m not into riding, I´ve never been emotionally attached to a horse, but this sent shivers through my spine. To me eating a horse is like eating a dog. I´m not trying to judge anyone, it´s certainly a cultural thing and a dish that many many Italians and foreigners enjoy but I just couldn´t stop crying. I know I know it´s silly!

Overall even my picky Italian boyfriend agrees that Italian food is better outside of Italy! It must be the fusion of the kitchens or the fact that traditional Italian restaurants are.... well... traditional, while it´s foreign countreparts put a modern spin on things and develop more innovative and healthy menus. 

I love Italian food and it will always be one of my favorite kitchens... just maybe outside of Italy. I wish I´d like seafood or could appreciate some of the supposingly amazing meats but that´s just not me.

Any comments? (be nice! ;)

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Style-Pursuit said...

Girl, there's no reason to cry, since you're 100% right! :o) Amen to everything you've written in this post!


Neris / Fashion Fractions said...

hahaha! this post made me laugh Gabby! I know a lot of people (including me) that agree that Italian cuisine is much better outside of Italy. I'm just glad that somebody wrote it finally :) Great post, just be aware of the Italians now :D


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Eda. said...

That food looks scrumptious darling, I love Italian food!

Eda ♥


adele said...

The trouble is we're spoilt in our own countries with amazxing restaurants.
I have had good food in Italy too but it has been really pricey xoxo

superhappyjohi said...

The horse meat just sounds terrible! :(( I'd cry too... I haven't been to Italy yet, but as a vegan I think I'd starve if I'll visit...

Sandra said...

I totally agree with this. I was spending my holidays in Italy this year and I was quite disappointed about the food. Italian food is definitely much better outside Italy. Ohh, and the horse thing...I couldn't agree more.


Kc said...

I like meat but I don't I would feel comfortable eating a horse meat sandwich! :S each to their own I suppose.

I love gelato too, and I've had some pretty good Italian food from Melbourne, Australia, but I'm yet to get to Italy and try the real thing!



Collections said...

omg I love Italian food, particularly pasta. I can't believe you don't have a pasta to talk about!! My favorite is always the pink sauce with rigatoni and sausage... so delicious.

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jillian :: cornflake dreams. said...

o wow! i think i have the same misperceptions of italy and their food. i haven't been to the country yet but i had big dreams of eating my way though italy! i do eat meat..but certainly not at every meal. good to know that i should do some real research on authentic italian cuisine before i travel so i am a bit prepared!
xoxo jillian:: cornflake dreams

ps i dont blame you for not eating that sandwich!! yacks. i am sick thinking about it.

marissa at the boot said...

i've found that in barletta they are kind of meat-heavy but a lot of times the cuisine is centered around fresh vegetables: ditalini with chick peas, orrecchiette with broccoli rabe, bowls of fresh tomatoes and basil, lentils, roasted potatoes with rosemary, artichokes stuffed with crusty bread and eggs, and not to mention the pizza in town! there's one with spinach, stracciatella (creamy stringy cheese) and black pepper that you would love! please come visit, i would love to change your mind about italian food. :)

Kayla said...

This is NOT what I want to hear about Italian food when I am going to be there in a couple months. I hope you are just very unlucky (sorry) and I have the food of my life!

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Alex said...

Found your blog not too long ago and i'm already a fan.
I love, love, love that you get to travel to beautiful places and share it with us....
I have to agree with you 100% with the horse meat sandwich. I am a foodie who eats meat and I would not touch horse meat to save my life. I have friends that have eaten dog- not in the US of course and it's something I find hard to
digest.( no pun intended.)

MG said...

What the hay!? A sandwich filled with horse meat? That is terrible! I'm so sorry, Gabby. I think you should stick to Italian food in NYC. Come visit me and I'll make you a lovely eggplant parm smothered in gooey cheese :)

Laura said...

I would have cried too if i heard about people eating horse meat. Don't worry. I have only been to Italy once (rome) and had really good pastas and bread, so I was happy. But maybe its because we ate at very touristy restaurants.

Lizette said...

I can't imagine your horror of being in a country and not being able to have a good meal. Unlike you I love meat and when I was in Paris a few months ago I told myself to this time explore the "world renowned" french cuisine and decided to order some meat dishes, all three times I did I was so disappointed but perhaps it was my poor french speaking skills and their poor english. I know that in France horse meat is also a delicacy...I really hope I didn't order that by mistake. But I guess that's what traveling entails, exploring everything the good, bad and the questionable meat on your plate ;)

Kathrin said...

I like meat but I would never eat horse meat. That's just terrible and I totally understand why you started to cry!

SiljeOhlaLA said...

Heheh, I sometimes felt that way about Spanish food living in Madrid. The typical bar/restaurants where people would go for lunch were full of greasy, fried food. The "raw material" was great though, made for some really nice home cooked (and way healthier!) meals! xoxo


Sascha said...

I love your blog but this time I totally disagree! I've been living in Italy for six years now and I have yet to find such great VARIETY in other foods! Have you been outside of Italy's tourist spots? Like, tiny little seaside towns? The South and North Italian cuisines are so different they're like two different food cultures.

I DO agree with you on the vegetarian thing, though. I can't count the times that I've actually had to explain what that is, and then specify that, no, as a vegetarian I do not eat ham!

Mrs. Stilletto said...

I must say that I haven´t been to Italy that many times, but the last time I visited I have had divine dinners! The lady of the Agriturismo could cook like a goddess! :) Also the other times I have eaten very well, but I must agree on the meat part; if you are a veggie it's hard to get some proper food. (Or only some lettuce with olive oil as I may say - just like I had once in Greece when I asked for a salad lol)


Ana said...

Wow, this is so different from my own experience in Italy! I was there in July and though I didn't eat out too many times, when I did the food was almost always incredibly delicious!
I did notice that real Italian foods are much more simplistic than the fusion ones, but I thought that was part of the appeal - they use very few, but fresh ingredients.
The pasta was always yummy, I did actually eat a 4 cheese gnocchi that I really enjoyed (and I don't really like cheese) and some other kinds too. I do agree though that they don't seem to serve much meat, I've been to places where there were absolutely no meat dishes in the menu.
I'm glad you liked the gelato though....it really is incredible isn't it? Tiramisu too, actually, I've had it a couple of times and it was the perfect ending to my meal.
It's so unfortunate that you didn't enjoy the food in Italy. I had these fears too before leaving, since I'm quite the picky eater myself, but luckily I found plenty of things that I enjoyed.

Anna of IHOD said...

I actually do not like raw or smoked meat so I didn't do too well with the meat in Italy but I was nuts over the ice cream and pastas. Gnocci being my favorite.
Loved your review:)

Mrs. C said...

Love Italy! Nothing like their food! So amazing. I married an Italian so now I love to make my favorite sauces! Homemade pasta and gnocchi. But my fav was gelato! Could eat all day and the fresh but I will agree there's some just as good or better here. Ok so hungry now! I've got a fun photo roundup :) Happy weekend!

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Viviana said...

Sorry to hear you have had so bad experiences. I am Italian, I am a vegetarian (I dont even eat chicken once a week, I dont eat chicken at all0 and i find Italian food the most delicious, healthy and fantastic food in the world. You might have some culinary growing up to do...

Iggy said...

Hello there, I just found your blog via bloglovin and was browsing when I read this. I went to Italy a few years ago and am Vegetarian (sad times I know). I LOVE pasta though so was definitely happy in that department but I know exactly what you mean by Veggies just don't exist over there...

However! We (it was an organised art trip) went to a small little town I think from a little googling it was Sansepolcro in Tuscany and we went to an amazing little restaurant that was family owned and I have never eaten such amazing Veggie food in my life.

If you can ever get there I don't know what the restaurant was but one of the guides said the family has the same facial features as a lot of the work of the artist Piero della Francesca.

This is a really crazy comment but yeah keep searching and you'll get such amazing Italian food you won't know what to do.


Sara Levy said...

Blheee I'm a vet and I can't stand when people are talking about horse meat.. I only eat fish and vegetables, not meat, not even chicken.

Rose said...

Hi Gabby!

I can totally relate to your situation..I'm a (very) picky eater too..and I also think Italian food tastes way better outside of Italy! My favorite Italian restaurants are in Vienna and in Lisbon!

And I also don't like the idea of horse meat..I know it's cultural..but no thanks!!!

xo Rose


Anonymous said...

I think you've been very unlucky up until now. Can't share your opiniion in any way. In my opinion you haven't been to the right places yet...

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