Lisa Munniksma

freelance writing, editing, farming, travel

Surely it’s Italian


The best meal I had in Italy was in Florence--fresh pappardelle con cinghiale .

The best meal I had in Italy was in Florence: fresh pappardelle con cinghiale.

Everything I learned about Italian food is wrong.

My mom makes the most amazing stromboli. I don’t like fettuccine Alfredo. Homemade Italian dressing is one of my favorite salad toppings. Italian wedding soup has gross little meatballs in it. … None of these statements mean anything in Italy, of course, because none of these food items actually exist in Italy!

I knew coming to Italy that my perception of “Italian” food would be challenged, but I didn’t think that so much of what I’ve known to be Italian is false. Recounting typical American-Italian dishes with my Sardinian friends yielded hours of entertainment based on the names of meals falsely labeled as having Italian origins.

Seriously, Italian immigrants, what did you do to Italian food in the U.S.? Though the menus at America’s “Italian” chain restaurants are as much to blame for continuing to perpetuate these myths.

I am happy to report that gnocchi, lasagna, tiramisu, more types of pasta than you can shake a ravioli at, pasta e fagioli, calzone, cannoli, zeppole, gelato, risotto and, of course, pizza are alive and well in this culinary wonderland of a country. And I am even happier to have discovered an amazing array of dishes and desserts that I’ve never even dreamed of: spaghetti alla bottarga, culurgiones, foccacia di recco, farinata, ribollita, suppli, sfogliatella, pappardelle con cinghiale, and more that I could never hope to pronounce or spell.

After having smelled, tasted and cooked all manner of edible items during my six weeks in Italy, I’m officially a proper-Italian-food backer. I do love my mom’s stromboli (Stromboli, incidentally, is a volcano in Italy’s Aeolian islands), but there’s nothing quite like a bowl of freshly made pappardelle pasta with wild boar. You can keep your fettuccine Alfredo.


  1. HUR-RAH!!!!! I can hear Hub’s cheering for your “enlightenment”! We SNORT LOUDLY when we hear people refer to popular “fast food” restaurant chains Italian! *fist pumping* YEEEEEEHAW! I’m not Italian, but I was SMART ENOUGH to marry one. . . *wink*

  2. I can’t wait to try these dishes for myself!

  3. Looks really tasty. I’d love to get down to Italy in ’13 (if time and money work out), London’s not much diff that NYC on Italian food.

    • Let me know if you go to Florence, and I’ll give you the name of the best restaurant and gelato I found there!

      • Sounds good. I’ve never been to Italy and Florence is on my list. Not sure of route yet. Would like to do way south between Tarranto and Sicily. Have friend who works for HP in Rome so could do hop, skip and jump trip.

  4. I’m so hungry right now.

  5. Hey, have you seen any of our U.S. Polo Assn. stuff? Like the food, it is so not like around here! Remember, we love Italy so much I named my mare Tuscany? (full-bodied like a nice Chianti.)

    • Every time I see a USPA logo, I think of you! I have yet to go check out the apparel, though. I’m happy to freelance as a traveling consultant for you, you know! I can be a secret shopper of sorts.

  6. Your moms stromboli is to die for fyi. HUGS

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