I Spent a Month in Florence and Canadians Are Wrong About These 9 Things About Italian Food
This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Narcity Media.
Working from home is great and all, but the real benefit of working remotely isn’t being able to roll out of bed and straight to your desk – it’s being able to walk around a beautiful city, visit a museum and dig into some epic pasta lunch before your workday even begins.
I discovered this last fall when I decided to work from Florence, Italy for a month.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Italy, one of the most amazing countries in the world, a few times before and Italian food is by far my favorite.
However, being there for a full month meant living like a local (albeit knowing a little Italian), and grocery shopping, chatting with cafe owners, and hanging out with real Florentines led me to some hard facts about all the things that Canadians – myself included – have gotten wrong when it comes to Italian cooking and cooking.
1. Use extra virgin olive oil for frying or cooking
How many of us have a giant bottle of extra virgin olive oil sitting next to our stove, ready to splash in a frying pan almost every time we cook?
According to a number of local foodies I spoke to in Florence, this is a major faux pas.
Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality olive oil you can buy and contains all the fatty qualities and flavor that come from olives – so cooking with it rather than cheaper oil is actually a waste.
The folks at The Kitchn explain, “Although you can cook with extra virgin olive oil, it has a lower smoke point than many other oils, which means it burns at a lower temperature. Save the expensive good quality stuff for dipping bread, salad dressings, dips, cold dishes and use the cheaper stuff for cooking and baking.”
2. Thinking bruschetta must involve tomatoes
wine in Tuscany, Italy.” class=”rm-shortcode rm-lazyloadable-image” data-rm-shortcode-id=”bf2cce3e7fb0184cda50a32df3c19b8a” data-rm-shortcode-name=”rebelmouse-image” data-runner-src=”https://www.narcity.com/media-library/bruschetta-with-olive-oil-and-wine-in-tuscany-italy.jpg?id=29570810&width=980″ height=”3316″ id=”dcee2″ lazy-loadable=”true” data-src=”data:image/svg+xml,%3Csvg xmlns=’http://www.w3.org/2000/svg’ viewBox=’0 0 3024 3316’%3E%3C/svg%3E” width=”3024″/>Bruschetta with olive oil and wine in Tuscany, Italy.Ali Millington | Narcity
The commonly known “bruschetta” comes from the Italian bruscare, which means “to roast on the coals”. In other words, bruschetta is just toast, as a tour guide told me – and it doesn’t need to be topped with tomatoes, onions, etc.
A simple piece of toasted bread with olive oil is still bruschetta, and that’s often how you’ll find it in Tuscany – and if the bread and oil are high quality, it’s always delicious .
Oh, and it’s pronounced “broo-sketta”, not “broo-shetta”.
3. Drink a cappuccino after 11 a.m.
A morning cappuccino and croissant in Florence, Italy.Ali Millington | Narcity
With hours to kill each morning in Florence before starting my workday from 7am to 3am ET, I felt like sipping my mid-morning cappuccino and watching the world go by.
However, when I ordered one as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, it was pointed out to me that a true Italian would not drink a cappuccino after noon.
Cappuccino is considered a breakfast drink, usually enjoyed in the morning with a croissant or other pastry. As Eataly says, if you want to fit in, “Don’t order these drinks after 11am, Italians only enjoy a latte in the morning – never in the afternoon, and especially not after a meal!”
4. Serve the prosecco in a champagne flute
You might think it’s just a fact at this point that prosecco – or any other sparkling wine – should be served in a flute or coupe if you fancy.
However, whenever I ordered a glass from Florence (which was fairly regular) it was always served a tulip-shaped white wine glass.
According to Metro, “Italians believe that to taste prosecco well, you have to be able to smell the delicious drink. And you can’t do that if your glass is as narrow as a flute.
“While many believe that a flute glass keeps the bubbles in a drink because there are [less] surface for them to escape, more emphasis is placed on the fact that a flute traps the aromas of prosecco inside the glass, which means you don’t get the experience you want when you take a sip.”
5. Cut long pasta
Chances are that in Canada, when you sit down to enjoy a large plate of long pasta, whether at home or in a restaurant, it is served with both a knife and a fork. However, in Italy, don’t even think about cutting these noodles.
According to Slate, you’re supposed to wrap the noodles around your fork, not break them — and if the noodles are cooked through (perfectly al dente), they won’t slip.
6. Thinking paninis should be grilled
Enjoying a panino (grilled) and a glass of red wine in front of the Duomo in Florence, Italy.Ali Millington | Narcity
Similar to bruschetta, “panini” simply means “sandwiches” in Italian. You can grill them, but they don’t need to be grilled.
North Americans have adapted the concept of panino to mean a grilled sandwich – we even have panini presses. However, if you see paninis on a menu in Italy, don’t assume they’ll arrive grilled with oozing cheese unless it’s clearly stated or you’ve asked for it.
7. Only drink red wine in the evening
The Airbnb I stayed in was down the street from a little cafe, and every morning when I passed around 10 a.m. there were people sitting outside enjoying glasses of red wine next door of their coffees.
At first, this morning, the red wine struck me as a bit punchy. However, I soon realized that in Italy, and especially among older generations, it’s still quite common to enjoy it earlier in the day – and it’s even more common during a leisurely lunch .
8. Skip the appetizer
Aperitif in Florence, Italy.Ali Millington | Narcity
The aperitif – or pre-meal drink – is one of my favorite Italian traditions that Canada could definitely benefit from.
“Happy hour” is something of a cultural ritual that takes place from 6 or 7 p.m. to 8 or 9 p.m. every night, giving Italians the chance to relax over drinks and a snack after work to continue the rest of their day. evening.
Meanwhile, bars and restaurants serve some sort of free snack with your drink, which is usually a spritz (made with Aperol or Campari), or something else on the lighter side like prosecco, white wine or some beer.
Why jump right into your dinner plans if you can have plans before dinner?
9. Thinking there’s a right way to make Bolognese
Bolognese in Florence, Italy.Ali Millington | Narcity
Bolognese simply means local meat sauce, so the “right” way to make it is different depending on where you are and who you ask.
It can be made with any type of meat and almost always includes carrot, onion, and celery mirepoix, but it usually doesn’t involve many (or any) tomatoes.
Ultimately, real Italian bolognese, no matter where you get it in Italy, is quite different from what you’ll find in North America.