Italy Pasta and Pizza
Two awesome parts of an Italian adventure – Italy Pasta and Pizza
The food in Italy is really kid friendly which is welcome news to any parent traveling with the kids. Except for the rare few – everyone loves pizza and pasta! Some people even loves both!
Italy Pasta and Pizza – Did Pasta come from Italy?
Pasta is a great dish that is eaten all over the world. Even though it is often thought of as an Italian invention, pasta was eaten in China 4500 years BEFORE it was eaten in Italy. No matter when it arrived in Italy, pasta has been embraced completely and Italians eat more pasta than anyone else.
The fact that Italian’s eat more pasta than anyone else is no surprise. But, can you guess who comes in #2 or #3 for amount of pasta eaten?
Italy Pasta and Pizza – Who eats the most pasta?
2) United States
Italy Pasta and Pizza – Where can you get the BEST pasta?
The very best place to make pasta is Naples, Italy. For pasta making, the climate is perfect for air drying pasta. The area around Naples produces the very first ‘protected pasta’ called Pasta di Gragnaro.
This pasta has an EU protected geographical indication status since 2013. I think I need to order some to see what all the fuss is about! What about you? Aren’t you dying to try the world’s best pasta? I sure am! Click the photo below to order some for yourself.Italy Pasta and Pizza – What’s in a name?
There are at least _____ types of pasta. Basically they are all the same material, but put into different shapes. Deciding exactly the number of pastas shapes in the world is practically impossible because one shape may have multiple names.
Italy Pasta and Pizza – A little help for choosing a pasta
When faced with Italian names for pasta, it helps to remember word endings:
‘ini, elli, illi, etti, ine, and elle’ all mean little
‘oni, one’ both mean large
This one is my favorite. Who decided that was the perfect pasta name ending??
‘acci’ means badly made
Italy Pasta and Pizza – What is the best pasta shape and type?
Some people are passionate about pasta types. After experimenting I can see what. I always make my great grandmother’s spaghetti sauce for Christmas eve. One year I bought colorful Christmas tree shaped pasta. The little shapes were so cute! The green and red colors festive! And they tasted so horrible! Yech!
One of my children proclaimed that the green ones tasted like grass. I have no idea how that child thought they knew what grass tasted like, but after tasting it myself I found I couldn’t really disagree. Even the fantastic sauce couldn’t cover up the yucky taste.
Now I stick to one of three types of pasta!
- Angel hair – This pasta is long and skinny and shaped like regular spaghetti but it is thinner. It is great for busy evenings because this thin pasta cooks really quickly.
- Bucatini – This is my favorite for my great grandmother’s sauce. It is straight like spaghetti but it has a hole in it like a garden hose. The sauce gets inside the hole which makes it extra tasty!
- Shapes – The kids love bow ties, elbows and twists for soup!
Italy Pasta and Pizza – Let’s talk sauces!
Actually there is quite a debate in the Italian side of my family over whether spaghetti sauce is called sauce or gravy. Whatever you call the yummy stuffed you pour over pasta it comes in several types. These are the most common sauces in the United States.
Marinara – This type is a red tomato sauce with lots of tomatoes and garlic but no meat.
Alfredo – This type of sauce is made from butter, cream and freshly grated cheese served over flat fettuccine noodles.
***The Italian word ‘alfredo’ loosely translates to ‘raises your cholesterol’ in English.***
(Just kidding, I made that up, but…..that much butter and cream and cheese would sure raise mine!)
Bolognese – This type of sauce is also called ‘ragu’ and is a tomato sauce that includes meat.
In more cultures there is one dish that everyone eats and everyone has a special recipe and/or family recipe for. In Italy and Sicily, this would be the sauce/gravy recipe!
Imagine my surprise when I surveyed my Italian family and realized some of them don’t put meat in the sauce. What??
Italy Pasta and Pizza – Pizza! Pizza!
Ok, you think you know pizza, right? It as to have thick crust – or thin crust – or stuffed crust. It needs just a touch of cheese – or extra cheese – or 3 no cheese! Pizza, like pasta comes with lots of varieties.
What pizza would you find in Italy? One of the most common types of pizza in Italy is called Pizza Margherita.
Back in 1889, so the legend goes, a chef created something new and wonderful for a visit from King Umberto 1 and his wife, Queen Margherita. His creation, first served in Naples, was pizza with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil leaves. It was named after the queen.
Pizza in some form goes back much much further than that – all the way back to 997.
The first pizza to arrive in the US is Neapolitan which is like Pizza Margherita but with a very thin crust.
Most famous pizza types in Italy :
- Pizza Napoletana – This pizza is baked in a certain way so the crust remains pliable so it can be folded over.
- Pizza Romana Tonda – This pizza has crust that is very thin and crisp.
- Pizza al Taglio – This means ‘pay by the cut’ and you basically order a slice. These slices are often strips from a rectangular pizza rather than triangles from a round pizza pie.
- Calzone – This pizza has been folded so the crust is on the outside and all the toppings are sealed inside. Think of hot pockets.
- Pizza Italiana – Ironically, this is the type of pizza you do NOT want to order in Italy. This refers to the type of pizza you’d find in a supermarket – not the food stuff.
That reminds me, one really busy night, I dug deeply in the back of the freezer and pulled out a cheap frozen pizza. I baked it and the ‘not so fabulous taste’ reminded me of growing up. We had cheap boxed pizza every Saturday night. In those days there really wasn’t much to pick from in the freezer department. The pizza was basically a very thin crust with a little tomato sauce and some cheese. I’m sure it tasted a lot like the box it was packaged in, but we loved it! It made me smile and brought back memories even though my teen was not at all impressed by this sad frozen pizza.
Italy has even more to offer the foodie than pasta and pizza!
Are you headed to Italy? Taking the whole family? Read about Sites in Italy.
Natalie, The Educational Tourist