Italians are, um, particular about their food. Growing up in NY, you learn this at an early age, surrounded by so many of them, all of whom believe their mother’s sauce is the best, their grandmother’s way of making [insert Italian-american dish here] is the ONLY way to make it.
Well, the East Coast Italian-American community’s got nothing on these folk.
Top 5 food-related facts of le Marche that I’ve learned:
1-Salt does not go into the pot of pasta water until the water’s all ready boiling. I don’t know why this is, but it is. To do so earlier is evidence of idiocy and/or poor upbringing.
2-You can put onions in a pan. You can put garlic in a pan. You cannot put them both in the same pan. Some of those who choose to go with onion also remove it prior to serving whatever the actual dish is.
3-You can eat fish. Or you can eat meat. You cannot eat them at the same time, during the same meal. “Terra e mare? Insieme? Mai!” Bacon around a scallop would be blasphemous.
I’m dying to make the classic Surf & Turf of my youth. A steak and a lobster tail on one plate. Totally blow their minds.
4-You never use butter. Except, you do. Only you don’t admit it. Tagliatelle with truffle sauce? Some chopped up truffle, some olive oil, a little bit of butter. I know this because, in addition to the tons of butter you see at the grocery store, the waiter in town was explaining the recipe but left out the butter. He gave it up when I pressed him, looking over his shoulder to see if anyone had heard.. Try to tell that to the folks around here who eat it, tho, and they’ll protest in horror.
5-Putting mustard on a bologna sandwich is a sin. Adding cheese to that sandwich? Beyond. Scandalous.
Forget about the “sauce” vs. “gravy” debate. That's not a topic for a non-Italian like me, but know this: here it’s sugo or salsa in general, ragu if meat’s involved. E Basta. Now, the pronunciation of Italian ingredients in the US and who utters them correctly? Nobody there does, except maybe Mario Batali. Everyone else? They’re speaking dialect (not Italian) and in NY, it’s usually the Naples variety. Take that, every Italian-American I grew up with on Long Island who made fun of how I said “mozzarella”!