Picture this: You’re in New York city at a famous Italian-American diner. The space is dimly lit with candles and there is a savory aroma in the air. You order a starter salad with breadsticks and a glass of Chianti wine. Your main meal consists of spaghetti and meatballs or a creamy chicken alfredo. You end your meal with another glass of wine as the waiter drops off the bill.
You just enjoyed an authentic Italian meal right? Well, consider another scenario.
Both of these experiences are in Italian restaurants, but they are both very different. The cuisine all across Italy is varies greatly from one region to another. The classic marinara sauce that Americans hold so close to their heart and associate with Italian food is not so common in Italy. In fact, the term marinara for red sauce doesn’t really occur in Italy, rather, it’s referred to as salsa al pomodoro. Marinara is actually a dialectal name referring to a quick sauce that wives of sailors, or marinai, could quickly put together when their husbands unexpectedly returned from sea.
While Italian and Italian-American cuisine are both outstanding and delicious in their own ways, they are certainly not the same thing. Both have proud heritages and stand behind their own dishes, but they come from the same root.