Tinned or bottled tomatoes are a key feature of Italian cooking. But are they authentic? Let’s take a look.
It’s difficult to imagine Italian Cuisine without the tomato, so fully has that vegetable (or fruit?) written itself, like a red thread, into the national cookbook. The dishes which seem to epitomize Italian cooking—insalata caprese, spaghetti alla napoletana, pizza—all contain tomatoes. It’s the red in the patriotic tricolour flag served on plates in Italy and abroad.
Antipasto is the Italian word for starter. It literally means ‘before the meal’. Since the Italian meal structure is different to that found abroad, it requires a little clarification. It’s more akin to the French hors d’oeuvres than to an anglo-saxon starter.
An honest mistake
I was standing behind my friend the other day as he ordered some espressi at the bar. Suddenly he let out a gasp. He’d ordered all three coffees in porcelain cups but our other friend preferred his in a glass. I glanced at the cups ranged on the bar to check that they weren’t still empty, but it was too late. All three were filled with perfect Italian espresso.
Oh, Christmas tree!
Almost all Italians now have a Christmas tree. It’s said that Queen Margherita of Savoy —she of the pizza—first set one up in the Quirinal Palace in Rome in the late 1800s. She took inspiration from the English tradition popularized by Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert in the 1840s, and that it quickly caught on. It is therefore, one of the few modern Christmas traditions that did not arrive in Italy from the USA after the Second World War.