Author Topic: Italians use Butter!  (Read 3429 times)

Offline David in MN

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Italians use Butter!
« on: December 19, 2017, 05:48:56 PM »
I'm going to put a little wisdom into the world that really irritates me. We're going to talk about Italian food and avoid the wrongheaded garbage that most Americans do.

Italy is a long country running North to South. As such it has a very different climate in the South (literally an island in the Mediterranean) from the North (which touches Germany). As you might know, olives don't grow in Germany or the upper part of Italy historically. Their food doesn't use olive oil. Olive oil has no place in risotto or served with the potato gnocchi of the northern states.

Similarly, Parmesan is a Northern ingredient. I scoff whenever I see Parmesan on fish (should have used Pecorino Romano). In fact, Parmesan and olive oil don't go together. But Dave, what about pesto? Well, pesto is a modern dish invented in the mid 1800s (although it is based on older Roman dishes likely culturally appropriated from the Mid-East).

I am so sick of seeing American cooks (even good ones) combine things that don't go together. Italy is a modern country with many older individual city-states, each with their own traditions. If I'm braising chicken thighs in a tomato and green olive sauce, it calls for olive oil and Pecorino (or another Southern cheese). If I'm doing a Milanese Risotto it's butter all the way.

I'll put it another way. When Americans make Italian food we use tri-tip make Austin BBQ, put a Carolina sauce on it, and serve it with a Minnesota hot dish. It's not necessarily bad or unpleasant, it's just wrong. And a true Italian chef would castigate me for oversimplifying and making a mistake here or there.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Italians use Butter!
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2017, 06:25:48 PM »
Well that was awfully pompous.  ;D

It's food.  It is supposed to be what you like.  If I like Parmesan on my fish, why shouldn't I have it?

Unless I'm a chef that claims to be making authentic Italian recipes, it really doesn't matter.

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Italians use Butter!
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2017, 07:17:39 PM »
When I lived in Florence (4 VERY short months), I lived with an old Italian lady who could cook.  mmm.mmm.  I put on 15 pounds there and I was walking everywhere.  The first night for dinner, she brought out a huge bowl of spaghetti.  My two (American) roommates and I looked at it, said, "Italy!" and dug in.  When this LARGE bowl of spaghetti was gone, Segnora brought out dinner  :o - chicken, potatoes, salad (consisting of romaine lettuce, olive oil, and salt), and chocolate cake.  And if we did not eat it all, she would ask, "Non ti piace? you don't like this?" so we had to eat until we started unbuttoning our jeans under the table  :D

I do not think I had parmesan cheese on much of anything.  I do wish, now in hindsight, that I had offered to go help her in the kitchen and learn how to cook her food, but at the time, I did not think of it  :(  She would not let us in the kitchen to even clear our dishes.

Fast forward to my last pregnancy.  For some reason, I developed an allergy to parmesan cheese.  I eat it and my throat swells up, and I have difficulty breathing for a few weeks.  It is very sad.  Parmesan is soooo yummy.  And this means that unless I make it, all "italian" food is out of the question for me, since all Amer-Italian food has copious amounts of parmesan.

I later had an Italian roommate, and she taught me some dishes, but I cannot seem to recreate them now, no matter how hard I try.

Offline David in MN

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Re: Italians use Butter!
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2017, 08:29:34 PM »
Well that was awfully pompous.  ;D

When it comes to food, I have never claimed to be anything but pretentious. I like a lot of "crap" food. I can get behind spaghetti and meatballs as long as I grind the meat and roll the pasta. But it's not Italian. It's Italian-American. Just like how I like tacos with ground beef and cheddar, something that no Mexican would ever eat.

I like breaking rules. One of my favorite molecular dishes is cantaloupe foam on blue cheese crackers (yes I do this). But you have to know the rules you're breaking. And I've been to enough dinners that wrongly blend Italian foods unknowingly.

Trust me, try Pecorino on your Southern Italian dishes. It will brighten them as it is saltier and less nutty.

Fast forward to my last pregnancy.  For some reason, I developed an allergy to parmesan cheese.  I eat it and my throat swells up, and I have difficulty breathing for a few weeks.  It is very sad.  Parmesan is soooo yummy.  And this means that unless I make it, all "italian" food is out of the question for me, since all Amer-Italian food has copious amounts of parmesan.

No Parm? that sucks. You can get a similar flavor from a true aged Dutch Gouda. My local cheeseshop doesn't even refrigerate it. From Steven Jenkins' Cheese Primer (yes, I have books about cheeses) beyond aged Gouda and the obvious Grana Pedano and Pecorino Romano he suggests American dry Jack and Argentinian Reggianito as substitutes. Hit me up if you need more help, I'm a bit of a cheese nerd.

Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: Italians use Butter!
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2017, 08:53:37 PM »
Parmesan allergy, ICK! :(

I dunno, I guess it depends on whether you're trying to reproduce a recipe from a particular place and time, or whether you're being inventive.  I figure any Italian recipe containing pasta and tomatoes is already American-Chinese-Italian fusion cuisine.  If I make a Moroccan bastela (which I do about once a decade), I'll try to follow the recipe as closely as I can (except I'll be using chicken instead of pigeons, okay?).  But my favorite cole slaw dressing is Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, mild green taco sauce, and Chunky Chat Masala spice mix from India.  I love Japanese soba (buckwheat noodles) with Toscano extra-vergin olive oil and finely-grated Locatelli Romano.

It's not just me.  I've got a Chinese Dim Sum cookbook, published in Taiwan, with a Pork Congee recipe that includes canned cream corn.  It must be authentic, or they wouldn't have printed it, right?

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Italians use Butter!
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2017, 09:14:40 PM »
Last night a picked up a jar of Ajvar from an eastern european market near by. 


I was kind of excited to find it, and today I shared this with my Serbian co-worker.  He explained I bought the Polish variety and the way the eggplant is chopped is different, and this somehow matters...  ::)

I also picked up a jar of Moroccan Harissa sauce


Though I have yet to encounter a north african to explain how my purchase was misguided :D

Offline Carl

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Re: Italians use Butter!
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2017, 05:46:32 AM »
  Authentic multi-national cuisine...it puts meat on your bones.

Offline Redman

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Re: Italians use Butter!
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2017, 06:02:23 AM »
  Authentic multi-national cuisine...it puts meat on your bones.

We love doing dishes from around the Med. and Asia, India, Pacific island, etc. Only problem I have is goat meat. Love it but around here you would think by the price it's Wagyu beef.

Offline Carl

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Re: Italians use Butter!
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2017, 06:24:05 AM »
We love doing dishes from around the Med. and Asia, India, Pacific island, etc. Only problem I have is goat meat. Love it but around here you would think by the price it's Wagyu beef.

Proper spices and cooking method can make all the difference as I make some deceptively good meals from armadillo. (mostly tastes like PORK)

Offline David in MN

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Re: Italians use Butter!
« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2017, 07:54:46 AM »
We love doing dishes from around the Med. and Asia, India, Pacific island, etc. Only problem I have is goat meat. Love it but around here you would think by the price it's Wagyu beef.

Considering it's (I think still) the #1 meat in the world it is odd that it hasn't caught on in the states. But I've also had a butcher laugh at me when I requested veal. Just not eaten here. Anything other than beef, pork, and chicken and I have to go to an Asian market. They'll sell me camel or alligator.

If I can't find veal chops for schnitzel, veal shoulder is right out. Even lamb is difficult. Country hams all but don't exist and I have yet to see a ham hock. Go to any grocer up here and it's blistering obvious these Scandanavians only eat chicken breast and steak.

Offline Redman

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Re: Italians use Butter!
« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2017, 09:22:04 AM »
For schnitzel I usually use a boneless pork loin sliced thin and pounded for Schweinenshnitzel as in this link. No intent to hijack the Italians.  :)

https://www.daringgourmet.com/traditional-german-pork-schnitzel/

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Re: Italians use Butter!
« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2017, 10:02:06 AM »
#1 meat in the world? Moose!

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Italians use Butter!
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2017, 10:11:55 AM »
When it comes to food, I have never claimed to be anything but pretentious. I like a lot of "crap" food. I can get behind spaghetti and meatballs as long as I grind the meat and roll the pasta. But it's not Italian. It's Italian-American. Just like how I like tacos with ground beef and cheddar, something that no Mexican would ever eat.
You can't make a blanket statement like "something that no Mexican would ever eat" and be correct.  I have plenty of friends of Mexican descent that absolutely love ground beef tacos and other Tex Mex dishes.  Is it authentic Mexican food?  Not at all.  But it's what they like.

I like breaking rules. One of my favorite molecular dishes is cantaloupe foam on blue cheese crackers (yes I do this). But you have to know the rules you're breaking. And I've been to enough dinners that wrongly blend Italian foods unknowingly.
Just because you say that it is blended wrongly does not mean that the person did not intend exactly what they served.  It also does not make it wrong.  That is completely your opinion.  If they claim that something is authentic and it is not, then let them know.  But just because it does not fit what you consider proper does not make it wrong.

As I said before, I make what my family (or guests) like.  I don't care about any so called rules.

Trust me, try Pecorino on your Southern Italian dishes. It will brighten them as it is saltier and less nutty.
I'll give it a try some time.  However, I don't make "Southern Italian" dishes.  I might make something similar to a dish served in Southern Italy, but I make what we like.  I freely make changes to recipes to make them more pleasing to my palate and the palate of my family. 


Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Italians use Butter!
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2017, 10:47:19 AM »
Don't come to California or the west coast in general if have a problem with "fusion" food.

I recently had an office team lunch at an Indian-Chinese restaurant.  It was okay, and I didn't think the blends worked, but this arrangement is typical.

sichuan paneer, etc.

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Italians use Butter!
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2017, 11:11:01 AM »
be careful - mixing cuisines is a mortal sin these days:
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/portland-burrito-cart-closes-after-owners-are-accused-of-cultural-appropriation_us_5926ef7ee4b062f96a348181
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/12/the-food-fight-at-oberlin-college/421401/

as an aside, while in Baltimore last month, we ordered pizza from https://www.yelp.com/biz/a-one-pizza-and-grill-linthicum-heights-2?osq=pizza+place
we ordered pizza, with wings (of course).  but also Samosa?  and when we got there saw that they have a full Indian menu not on the website.  AND Greek food, as well as the subs that you could normally see at a small pizza shop.  :o  None of it was very good.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Italians use Butter!
« Reply #15 on: December 20, 2017, 11:19:42 AM »
as an aside, while in Baltimore last month, we ordered pizza from https://www.yelp.com/biz/a-one-pizza-and-grill-linthicum-heights-2?osq=pizza+place
we ordered pizza, with wings (of course).  but also Samosa?  and when we got there saw that they have a full Indian menu not on the website.  AND Greek food, as well as the subs that you could normally see at a small pizza shop.  :o  None of it was very good.
Yeah, there's a lot of places like that in Maryland.  A lot of the take out places do MANY different types of food, and don't do much of it very well. 

If you ever get to this area again, check out G & M's for crab cakes. They are very good and it's probably only about 10 minutes from that pizza place.

Offline Carl

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Re: Italians use Butter!
« Reply #16 on: December 20, 2017, 11:21:27 AM »
  and when we got there saw that they have a full Indian menu not on the website.  AND Greek food, as well as the subs that you could normally see at a small pizza shop.  :o  None of it was very good.

Some shops specialize in mediocracy?

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Italians use Butter!
« Reply #17 on: December 20, 2017, 11:22:05 AM »
Slightly off topic, but around Seattle there's a pattern for ethnic restaurants:

"Greek/Mediterranean" -> operated by Turks
"Thai"-> operated by Vietnamese
"Teriyaki" -> operated by Koreans
"Mexican" -> operated by central americans (Guatemalan, Salvadoran, etc.)

So it's a bit odd to be self-critical when most ethnic restaurants you might visit are likely "doing it wrong".

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Re: Italians use Butter!
« Reply #18 on: December 20, 2017, 11:32:25 AM »
On our side of WA we also have:
"Traditional American diner"-> operated by Korean boss and Mexican kitchen staff 8)

Offline Frugal Upstate

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Re: Italians use Butter!
« Reply #19 on: December 21, 2017, 05:22:03 AM »
Considering it's (I think still) the #1 meat in the world it is odd that it hasn't caught on in the states. But I've also had a butcher laugh at me when I requested veal. Just not eaten here. Anything other than beef, pork, and chicken and I have to go to an Asian market. They'll sell me camel or alligator.

If I can't find veal chops for schnitzel, veal shoulder is right out. Even lamb is difficult. Country hams all but don't exist and I have yet to see a ham hock. Go to any grocer up here and it's blistering obvious these Scandanavians only eat chicken breast and steak.

We have a "Price Rite" grocery store that opened a few years back.  No idea if they have them out by you.  It's kinda like ALDI in that everything is just to n boxes on the shelves.  Cheap stuff, their own brand is ok but not great.  But they cater to a more ethnic community, so they have lamb, chicken feet, etc in the neat section, an entire row if italian brands, Hispanic brands etc. If you ever see one you should stop in & check it out.

Offline Redman

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Re: Italians use Butter!
« Reply #20 on: December 21, 2017, 05:30:34 AM »
Hispanic and Asian is easy to get most anyplace around Houston. Middle eastern not so much, the one store close to me is very proud of their goat meat.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Italians use Butter!
« Reply #21 on: December 21, 2017, 06:26:21 AM »
I'm not a fan of goat.  Probably because I wasn't raised on it.  But it has an odd taste to me.  I can't really describe it.  I'll eat it if I need to, I just won't go out of my way for it.

It is readily available in my area.  My neighbor has cattle mainly, but there's such a large influx of Middle Eastern people into the area that he's added goats to the mix. 

Offline Fixit

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Re: Italians use Butter!
« Reply #22 on: December 21, 2017, 06:16:22 PM »
As far as mixed menus https://www.truelovepropertygroup.com

And you don't want to know what I will use that double cream brie I was given the other day for .