What crosses your mind when someone mentions Italian food? Pasta? Pizza? In reality, the food of Italy goes far beyond these two well-known and widely popular dishes. There’s no limit of interesting facts to know about this artistic and culturally rich country. We’ll put your love of pizza and pasta to the test with these 10 surprising facts about Italian food.
Interesting Facts About Italian Cuisine and Culture
Food is not taken lightly in Italy. The well-known Italian saying, “l’appetito vien mangiando” literally means “appetite comes by eating.” This means that even when you don’t feel hungry, just eating something tasty will increase your appetite and make you want to indulge! Before eating a meal, Italians typically wish one another a good appetite by saying, “Buon appetito!”
With a long history preceding the Renaissance period, Italy is home to one of the richest cultures worldwide. All things food — what to eat, how to cook and when to indulge — play an important role in Italian culture. The excellence of Mediterranean cuisine enriches the Italian way of life, and food is more than just a means of survival and quality nutrition. Food is a unique source of pride and remains the highlight of many Italian celebrations and festivals.
Some of our favorite historical Italian food facts are:
- Italy is full of grape varieties and different kinds of pasta: There are more than 600 different pasta shapes and more than 300 different types of grapes in Italy.
- Italy has its own National Food Day: February 13th is National “Eat Italian Food day.”
- Pizza was invented in the 18th century: After its creation in Naples, the first style of Italian pizza was sold on the streets, mostly to the poor. In 1738, Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba, the first pizza restaurant in Italy, opened.
- Italy ranks second worldwide in wine production: Trailing behind France, Italy is the world’s second-largest producer of wine, just ahead of Spain and the U.S.
- Morning coffee always has milk: In Italy, you’ll rarely see someone order a coffee after 11 a.m. Coffee is usually served with milk and reserved for breakfast time. You may see coffee served as an espresso after dinner, though.
- Bread is not an appetizer: In Italian homes, there’s almost always bread, wine and water on dining tables before the meal even arrives. However, the bread is used to soak up extra sauce on your plate after eating and is not seen as an appetizer. This is known in Italy as the “Fare la scarpetta.”
- Authentic Italian pizza is more straightforward than you think: The crust of authentic Italian pizza is light, crispy and thin. The sauce is made with fresh tomatoes and the entire pizza is usually cooked in a wood-fired oven for approximately 90 seconds.
- Garlic bread is an American invention: In Italy, bread is usually served plain and without garlic butter.
- The pope once set quality standards for pasta: The pope establis quality standards for pasta in the 13th century. It’s so popular that the average Italian eats more than 51 pounds of pasta per year.
- The main meal is lunch: The main meal of the day in Italy is lunchtime, or “il pranzo.”
Reserve a Table at Allora Italian Restaurant
Want to experience authentic Italian food in a modern atmosphere? At Allora in Atlanta, Georgia’s TWELVE Hotel Midtown, we’re committed to blending Italian classics with modern techniques and seasonal ingredients to bring you an unforgettable dining experience. Our homemade pasta is made fresh in house every day and our menu delivers both traditional and innovative Italian dishes — pizzas made to order, fresh pasta, small plates, creative insalatas and more.
For reservations, call 404.961.7370 or fill out our online form for private party reservations today.