Have you ever tasted any Italian dishes served in many American restaurants or seen a video where people cook them? Unfortunately the majority of them are not Italian at all.

If you want to know which recipes I’m talking about, continue reading.

Mac and Cheese: America’s favourite (non-)Italian dish

Macaroni and Cheese is perhaps one of the most popular Italian dishes in America. You can find it in grocery stores as a ready meal that you can cook in the oven or the microwave.

In Italy, however, it does not exist! Did you know that?

Perhaps the Italian version of the dish that is more similar to mac ‘n’ cheese is pasta ai quattro formaggi.

Main differences:

  • American cheddar does not have the same intensity of flavour as the cheeses used in Italy and more generally American cheddar is not used in any Italian dishes; 
  • Mac and Cheese is gratinéed in most cases, pasta with four cheeses in Italy is not. When cooked au gratin, it is called pasta al forno
Parmigiana di melanzane (eggplants parmigiana), traditional Italian recipe

The Chicken Parmesan

Parmigiana di melanzane is one of the most famous dishes of Southern Italian cuisine and may slightly vary according to each region or family tradition, but chicken is not used in this recipe. 

The idea of breaded chicken with cheese could only be similar to the Valdostana or to the cotoletta petroniana from Bologna recipes, but both use veal.

“Spaghetti meatballs” and “spaghetti bolognese”

Ragù is a serious matter in Italy. The American recipe follows its basic elements but the abuse of too many ingredients such as basil, oregano, red chilli pepper, garlic and various sauces does not exist in any ragù from any Italian region. 

The same can be said for ‘spaghetti meatballs’ that is probably based on the mini-meatballs recipe used in the sauce to season spaghetti as in some regions such as Abruzzo. 

5 bonus tips if you really want to eat like an Italian:

  1. Don’t cut spaghetti with a knife and fork. You don’t cut spaghetti, you roll them using your fork.
  2. Don’t put parmesan cheese on pasta with fish.
  3. Don’t break the spaghetti when you boil it in the pan.
  4. Don’t put ice in your glass of wine.
  5. Don’t use ketchup. It’s ok only with chips.