Italy, Italians and foreign food
When it comes to food, Italians are proud of their roots. They would unlikely renounce to their typical dishes and favor them above all other types of food.
Their devotion to Italian cuisine also includes the way and style of cooking typical of the Mediterranean diet, famously based on olive oil, fresh vegetables and fragrant herbs. When it comes to the crunch, Italians can be quite reluctant to eat foreign food, especially ethnic, spicy dishes, with atypical ingredients and flavors.
Statistics say four Italians out of ten have never been to a foreign restaurant: despite the increasing diffusion of foreign eateries and take aways all over the country, when it comes to it, we remain quite skeptical. The only exotic dish which appears to have truly conquered the heart of the people of Italy is the ubiquitous turkish kebab, with its spiced lamb, fresh vegetables and mint and yogurt sauce; but, in the end, that is not so surprising. Typically eaten on the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, the kebab is, indeed, just another example of a style of cuisine very close to our own. Whatever the reason, kebabs have become common chow for students, gourmet eaters and families alike. Their main ingredient, spicy, thinly sliced lamb meat has appeared among the toppings of one of Italy's kitchen finest: pizza.
In spite of some opening towards different foods especially, but not solely, among the youngest generations, Italians remain on average quite old fashioned and tend to prefer traditional Italian dishes; this would not be a problem, if it were not for the fact that, at times, our attitude to foreign cuisine borders the comical. The difficult, nationalist Italian eater can be squarely placed in one- or more- of these three categories: the patriotic, the persistent and the mistrustful eater. The patriotic eater firmly believes Italian food is the best in the world and no other cuisine is worth to be tried; persistent eaters are possibly the most fastidious to deal with, especially when on holidays. They usually expect to eat proper Italian food everywhere else in the world ,and very often entertain their dinner buddies with their incessant whining about how badly foreigners cook. Last, but not least, the mistrustful eaters simply refuse to try any other form of food, convinced within an inch of their lives they will never, ever enjoy anything that is not made in Italy.
Keep in mind, though, that we are not all like this: in the past couple of decades, Italians have opened more and more to the delicacies and the pleasures of foreign dishes: in the end, we are "buon gustai", we love good chow, we were bound to fall in love with other cuisines, too! Nowadays, ethnic restaurants are found not only in the bigger cities, but also in smaller centers and attract a varied- albeit mostly younger- crowd.
If you are going to Italy so, and you do not want to eat Italian– why wouldn't you, though?– rest assured you will find your favorite, ethnic dishes to munch on almost everywhere. However, isn't it better to enjoy a country's wealth and beauty also through its food? To say it with the old rhyme: isn't better, when in Rome, to do it like the Romans?