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We’re heading back to Sicily in June and then on to Sardinia. I cannot wait for the sightseeing, the beaches, and most importantly the food. Growing up in an Italian-American household, we had what I always thought of as Italian food. But, Italy is a lot more than red sauce, pizza, and tons of cheese. Each region has its own cuisine and many of the dishes you find at restaurants in the US will not be found while dining in Italy. Here are five that you’ll be hard pressed to find while exploring the boot-shaped country.
1. Chicken or Veal Parmigiana
Eggplant Parmigiana does exist and you’ll find this dish throughout Rome and southern Italy. Anything else given the “Parm” treatment will be hard to find.
2. Spaghetti & Meatballs
You’ll find both of these items on a menu, but as separate items. Spaghetti is often found as Spaghetti al Pomodoro and meatballs are Polpette. Combining them is an American thing.
3. Chicken Marsala
Marsala wine comes from Sicily, but this dish is not Sicilian. There is a dish with chicken stewed in wine, but the version known in the states was created in US restaurants in the 1950s.
4. Hawaiian Pizza
Pizza in Naples is fantastic. You will not find it topped with ham and pineapple, however. Pizza is thin, with tomato sauce, some cheese, and basil if you order Margherita. The Hawaiian version comes from Canada.
5. Garlic Bread
Bread is served plain (or with a little oil or butter). Garlic bread is another American invention that likely originated from Bruschetta, which traditionally is rubbed with garlic before toasting and topping.
Anthony’s Take: If you’re headed to Italy, do some research around the dishes in the area where you’ll be traveling. There is so much more to red sauce. Open your mind and your palette and you’re sure to find something delicious.
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Canned spaghetti, like Spaghetti-O’s, is nowhere to be found. There are Italian companies that make canned spaghetti but it is entirely for export, I was told.