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10 Italian Cliches You Won't Find in Italy
1. Caesar Salad
The most famous salad served in almost every Italian restaurant in the U.S. is actually not Italian at all but very American. Until recently asking for parmesan cheese and croutons on a salad in Italy would have meant asking to be laughed at. In recent years with globalization and international menus offered in Italian restaurants, some places have begun to offer it. Don't be fooled if you see "Insalata Cesare" on your menu as it still remains an American dish.
2. Rolling Spaghetti with a Spoon
Italians NEVER roll their spaghetti using a spoon because those who do it are considered rude. The same thing applies to cutting long pasta with a knife. Regardless of what you might have seen or heard, don't do it. If you're having trouble rolling your pasta using your fork, just set the tines on your plate to help you.
3. Salad As Appetizer
In Italy a salad is served as a side dish with the second course and never before the first course. Asking for a salad as an appetizer is not common. Italians use salad to cleanse the palate after eating the majority of their meal.
4. Pasta and Meat on the Same Plate
Regardless of the type of restaurant or the simplicity of your host, Italians never put two courses on the same plate. Pasta is one thing, meat, chicken, and meatballs are another. You will never see them mixed. A good pasta dish doesn't have a juicy sauce, the pasta is supposed to be colored by the sauce and not immersed in it. Spaghetti and meatballs is one of the most popular Italian-American dishes today but it is almost extinct in Italy. The dish can only be found in some areas like tourist towns that celebrate the traditional dish during a festival. Anybody ordering the dish outside of the festivals will be immediately recognized as not being Italian.
5. Cappuccino After a Meal
In Italy cappuccino is seen as a breakfast drink. After midday no true Italian would ever drink cappuccino, so if ordering a cappuccino after a full meal be prepared to receive a shocked look from your waiter. Italians prefer a straight espresso to help with digestion after dinner.
6. Oil and Butter with Bread in a Restaurant
Oil, butter, and bread are common and very Italian but it is not an Italian custom to eat them in a restaurant or at home during a formal meal. Restaurants will never put butter on the table or a bowl filled with olive oil to dip bread in. These are usually considered midday snacks, and requesting them at a restaurant would be a very American thing to do.
7. Italians Eat Pasta Every Day
While pasta is a popular dish many Italians prefer to replace it with rice, minestrone, and soup. The Italian diet is usually heavy in meat and fish.
8. Italians Eat Big Dinners
In most cases Italians eat more at lunch than at dinner, and dinner is typically eaten later in the evening rather than late afternoon.
9. Couples Sitting Side By Side
Eating in Italy is a social event so people prefer to be seated face to face. On a group outing or a double date a couple would rarely sit next to one another allowing for more mingling.
10. Italians Have Large Families
Italian families with six to eight children are a thing of the past. Italians not only get married later than most Americans, they also have the lowest birth rate in the world and as a result the population is shrinking. Divorce is on the rise and people often don't start families until they're well into their thirties. For a nation that has long based itself on traditions of home and family this is certainly a problem that has raised concerns.