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What American Foods to Make for Your Italian Family and Friends
Discover what tastes of the United States get rave reviews in the Boot
By Francesca Di Meglio
American foods are actually more popular than you'd imagine in Italy. Most of the people are foodies by American standards. Preparing meals, gathering family and friends and the table, and perfecting regional specialties are big parts of the culture. As a result, many Italians enjoy trying new dishes. When they find out your American (or Canadian or Brazilian or Australian), they want to know what's on your menu.
Frankly, one of my favorite parts of visiting Italy is the cultural exchange. The richest ones happen when breaking bread. I regularly cook American food for my family and friends in Italy. In fact, they seem to like that more than the little trinkets and souvenirs I bring them from the U.S. Indeed, you'll be surprised at some of their favorite American foods:
- American Breakfast
Pancakes, waffles, eggs, and bacon are favorites among the Italians. In Italy, you won't find actual bacon, but pancetta and speck are fine substitutes. You could also eat Italian sausage in place of breakfast sausage (or make your own if you know how).
Americans won't like the hamburgers in Italy. There's a big difference in the taste of beef. American beef is simply better. Every Italian who comes to the United States to visit me has wanted to eat his or her weight in hamburgers and steak, in fact. Still, when you're in Italy, your Italian family will appreciate you making them hamburgers. Even with Italian beef, if you make large, American-style burgers, you'll impress them.
Grill them properly, and they'll never forget you. Be sure to include all the fixings – tomatoes, lettuce and cheese. But you can probably leave out the onions and pickles. Most Italians I know fear onion breath and don't like pickles, which are also kind of hard to find at least on the island of Ischia, home of my ancestors and husband.
Italians are lovers of cheesecake. They especially like New York-style cheesecake, but it requires sour cream, which is tough to find. So are graham crackers. As a result, Italians have made many of their own versions. They are all delicious. They use different cookies for the crust or add ricotta to the cheese filling. But they love it when you make them one with only “Philadelphia,” which is what they call any kind of cream cheese. Recently, I shared a recipe for no-bake cheesecake that is always a winner in Italy.
- Apple Pie
The saying goes, “American as apple pie.” Many of my Italian friends have joined my family and me for Thanksgiving in the United States. They are endlessly fascinated by a holiday that revolves around food and family. It's like it was made for them. Each time, I've served apple pie for dessert. They all tell me they hate “canella,” Italian for “cinnamon.” Yet, they practically lick the plate clean. So, I've begun making apple pie for them in Italy. Of course, there are no pre-made crusts in Italy, so you'll have to always make it from scratch. But it's worth it. I like to serve it a la mode with fior di latte gelato from the local gelateria. The thought alone is delicious.
Di Meglio has written the Our Paesani column for ItaliansRus.com since 2003. You can follow the Italian Mamma on Facebook or Twitter @ItalianMamma10.
Article Published 10/02/17
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