5 Tips for Non-Italians Cooking Italian for Italians
- Practice the pronunciation Italian food terms on your menu. When talking to your Italian friends about what’s going to be for dinner, don’t make the mistake of describing your awesome Caprese Salad that is topped with fresh MAH-ZAH-RELLA. Descriptions and appearance are extremely important to Italians, and they use their words (and hands) to paint pictures. If you’re tossing around terms, you’d better set up their mind palate and come correct. Bruschetta is pronounced Bru-SKe-TAH, so don’t look like a rookie and earn their trust before their first bite.
- Don’t insult their Nonna by bragging to them about how good your Italian cooking is. Italians love their grandmother more than life itself, and their cooking is second to none. Dinners with their Nonna bring back great memories and classic round table conversations that will far supersede the “gravy” recipe that you found online. Make sure you remain humble, confident but not arrogant to the fact your dish will never be as good regardless of the smiles you see after every bite.
- Be authentic and buy authentic. When cooking for Italians, it’s best to use the best and most authentic ingredients in your dish. When purchasing grocery items, ask yourself if you would be able to tell the difference between that sugar-coated marinara and fresh, Italian imported San Marzano tomatoes. If you have to question yourself, you better just bite the bullet and buy the authentic, Italian imported products. Italians love to hear stories, and describing where each ingredient in the recipe came from will add great content to a dinner conversation. Remember, if it isn’t D.O.P., it isn’t real.
- Do your research. Believe it or not, traditional Italian dishes and pastas all have a bit of heritage that follows the recipe. Most pastas have an origin or a story to how they came about. Do yourself a favor and do a quick search online for the recipe and potential origins of the recipe. Again, Italians love stories, and if you take the time to research and tell the story around the dinner table, they will respect you and your cooking even more.
- Too much of something is always a good thing. One thing Italians never leave their guests with is hunger. If you have 4 people coming over, make enough food for 8 guests. If you have been to any Italian family get together, there is always enough food to feed a small village. A great spread is a sign that their host took the time to welcome them and their culture into their home.