Italian Food Rule – No Meatballs On Top of Spaghetti

“Mamma, mia, thatsa spicy meatball,” the red-faced “Italian” man said each time his stereotypical wife plunked down a steaming plate of spaghetti and meatballs … until the antacid commercial hit its punchline.

“Spaghetti and meatballs, now that’s Italian!” is found in the script of many a b-movie.

Even Lady and the Tramp have their first kiss over spaghetti and meatballs served up by Tony, the mustachioed Italian singing cook in 1955.

Now, it’s time for the Italian Food Rule:  Spaghetti is not served topped by meatballs in sauce. Do not order “spaghetti and meatballs” in Italy!  At the very least, … Read More

Italian Food Rule – No Gaudy Dressing, Keep Salad Simple

To dress a salad in Italy is simplicity itself: bring a bowl of salad greens (preferably one to three varieties of radicchio tossed together – that’s all) to the table, add some of the best extra-virgin olive oil available, a small splash of red-wine vinegar or lemon juice, a generous sprinkle of salt and a bit of pepper; toss again and serve on a salad plate (don’t infect the leafy greens with left-over pasta sauce or juice from the ossobuco.)

The only debate is whether inexpensive balsamic vinegar (not the traditional DOP stuff from Modena) is an acceptable substitute … Read More

Italian Food Rule – Do Not Eat or Drink While Walking

Although I’ve learned to never say never – Italians never eat while they’re walking or standing. They have no culture of snacking on the types of food that Americans are frequently noshing on as they hurry from place to place – no Big Gulps, Grande Lattes with extra foam, bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, Walking Tacos , Big Macs, or even, a panino con mortadella. (Yes, there are Big Macs in Italy, but they are being eaten – slowly – while at the table provided, not on the run.)

This aversion to eating and drinking while walking (“Che Read More

Italian Food Rules – Bread Is Not Better With Butter

“Where’s the butter for the bread?” asks a tourist from Chicago. “Can we get some butter out here?” asks a lady from Atlanta. “Perché?” queries the waiter.

Perché? indeed. In Italy, bread is not better with butter.

Butter never meets bread in Italy. except for a breakfast of a slice of toast with butter and marmellata or an after-school snack of bread and butter and Nutella.

At lunch or dinner, Italians wouldn’t think of slathering butter on the bread from the basket on the table. (They don’t dunk it in oil either, but that is the subject of … Read More

Italian Food Rules – No Pizza for Lunch

Mangiare la pizza prima delle nove mi fa tristeza,” asserts my friend Teresa, echoing Italians everywhere – “To eat pizza before 9pm makes me sad.”

The Italian Food Rule: No pizza for lunch.

In the U.S. pizza is eaten at any time of the day – even cold for breakfast in dorm rooms on every college campus. Italians refuse to eat food served any which way, at any time of day or night.

The reasoning behind this Food Rule is exact: Pizza is to be eaten at a pizzeria at night because: 1) pizza must be made to … Read More

Italian Food Rules – No Cappuccino After 10am

“Italians, it so happens, spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about digestion. The predilection towards a before-dinner drink-known as an aperitivo – is due in large part because Italians believe a drink such as Campari and soda “opens the stomach.” If you launch into your bruschetta – followed by pasta, followed by grilled fish, followed by panna cotta – without first awakening the digestive tract with an aperitivo, you’re just asking for trouble.” (The Daily Traveler for Condé Nast)

To sip a cappuccino after lunch is a direct and major violation of an Italian Food Rule. Italians … Read More

Books, Books, Books – Secrets of My Tuscan Kitchen by Judy Witts


JUDY WITTS has published the 2,000th copy of her new cookbook SECRETS FROM MY TUSCAN KITCHEN.

To celebrate 25 years in Italy, Judy Witts Francini of Divina Cucina self-published the collection of recipes she used for the past 20 years at her cooking school in Florence and wrote about in her blog Over a Tuscan Stove.

The cookbook started out as a handwritten, spiral-bound, photocopied edition that she gave to her students.

In 2008, she took the time to recreate it as a more permanent collection and developed a blog to go with it.

There are almost … Read More