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Italian cuisine outside of Italy

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Dear Ms. Johns,

Thank you for participating and also for the nice introduction to your lovely part of the world.

I wondered if the explosion of Italian cuisine propogated outside of Italy has had any reverse effect or influence on Italian restaurants and/or home cooking in Italy? In other words, has Italian cooking abroad in places like New York, London, San Francisco, Sydney had an influence that is discernible? If so, has it been mainly to help reinforce the goals in Italy's own Slow Food movement or else also to bring changes in style to some dishes?

Also curious if some aspects of classic "Italian-American" cusine ever successfully took root back in Italy. Any examples?

Thank you very much! :smile:

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Those are interesting questions. What comes to mind is the little bowl of olive oil with some balsamic vinegar dripped into it….something you find in many Italian restaurants in the US, and something you only see here in restaurants frequented by tourists. It is not a bad idea, especially if they are serving an excellent olive oil. Maybe the original idea came from pinzimonio which is a little bowl of really good olive oil to which you add some salt and dip in pieces of fresh raw vegetables….or bagna cauda, which is a warm olive oil dip flavored with some anchovies…

Certainly another trend I see is the inclination away from rustic osterie and simple family trattorie. More and more osterie have white tablecloths and linens and prices to match. Who can blame them, they need to make a living, too. And, there are a greater number of high cuisine restaurants, but I’m not sure the influence in the kitchen has come from abroad. In the law of supply and demand, there are more food-enlightened tourists requesting this level of cooking (not withstanding the current poor exchange rate…).

Recently I re-visited my friends at Don Alfonso 1890. I usually order the traditional menu, but took a leap and tried their tasting menu. It was heavily influenced by Asian ingredients and techniques, a circumstance that may come from the fact that one of the cooks is Japanese.

Pamela Sheldon Johns

Italian Food Artisans


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