You’ll be cooking like a true Italian nonna in no time with these easy tips.
“A tavola non si invecchia.” — At the table, one does not age.
Don’t add cheese to seafood dishes
This may seem like an arbitrary rule, but many Italians feel very strongly about it! Adding grated Parmigano (or any other cheese) to your seafood pasta is a cultural faux pas.
Focus on quality produce
Italians look for foods that are top quality and in season. With excellent ingredients, every dish will be at its absolute best.
Don’t waste food
Many classic Italian dishes were born out of frugality — there’s even a phrase for this, cucina povera, or peasant cooking. The delicious panzanella salad was devised to use to stale bread; in Sicily, they make use of leftover pasta as a filling for frittatas, and the traditional pasta e fagioli is a hearty dish designed to line stomachs for as little money as possible. Even Parmesan rinds are simmered in soups to add flavour. To cook like a true Italian, don’t waste things that can be used again.
Invest in good olive oil
To an Italian, oil is not merely a means to cook your food, but is an essential part of the finished dish. Spend an extra few bob on a really good olive oil and notice the difference. Save the extra-virgin for drizzles and salad dressings.
“L’appetito vien mangiando.” — Appetite comes with eating.
Never break or cut your spaghetti
This is sacrilege in Italia. Don’t break long pasta before putting it in the water — and don’t use a knife to cut it on your plate.
Match the right pasta to your sauce
Pasta shapes matter! Different sauces cling better to different shapes. There’s a shape out there for every kind of sauce, so be sure to look for the right one.
Serve pasta in hot bowls
The heat can go out of pasta very quickly. Warm your serving bowls beforehand to keep it at that perfect temperature for longer.
“Amicizie e maccheroni, sono meglio caldi.” — Friendships and macaroni are best when they are warm.
Cook your pasta properly
Click here for the cardinal rules on cooking pasta the right way.
Keep it simple
Less is more with Italian cuisine — it’s better to let a few great flavours shine. That’s why you’ll never see a real Italian pizza or pasta dish loaded with toppings.
Make it an event
The biggest trick to cooking like an Italian is to treat every meal as a real occasion. Meals should be enjoyed with loved ones and never rushed.