Italians Needed

One of the culinary practices that horrify me in the US is the habit of serving pasta with breadsticks. Pasta is bread. Why do you need bread to accompany bread?

Italians (the real ones, from Italy; no disrespect to the other ones), please enlighten me. Is this done in your country? In Ukraine we eat extremely unhealthily. But even we make fun of the folks who eat pasta with bread.

20 thoughts on “Italians Needed

    1. I’m Ok with carbs on carbs. In Ukraine we eat watermelon with bread.

      It’s identical carbs on top of each other that gets me. Like fries with mashed potatoes. Or bread with pizza.

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  1. No, at least in Italy, we NEVER eat bread with pasta. Bread is not even brought to the table before the second course. Breadsticks are typically found in restaurants, and hardly ever eaten at home during a meal. In restaurants they are there to be eaten with the hors d’oeuvres, at home they are eaten as snacks between meals.
    Do not eat bread with pasta in Italy unless you want to see some horrified faces. Oh, and by the way, no cappuccino after midday: outside morning hours you are only allowed milk in a caffè macchiato.

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    1. My husband keeps asking for cappuccino in Midwestern restaurants, confusing everybody. I can’t explain to him that it’s not going to happen but he doesn’t believe me.

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  2. To sop up a delicious pasta sauce.

    I’ve since replaced the bread for sauce sopping with raw greens. Arugula usually but sometimes spinach. I eat raw greens between bites and after eating pasta to help digest all those carbs.

    But nothing beats crusty bread dunked in a perfect sauce! Not as healthy, but quite the treat when done right.

    Yeah, the double carbs and triple carbs surprised me when first dating my now husband (a Peruvian). We still have disagreements about what makes a meal. He also eats way more than almost anyone I know. Peruvian portions are massive.

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  3. “the US is the habit of serving pasta with breadsticks”

    This sounds like a restaurant thing and not something anyone would do at home.

    A lot of what passes for “Italian-American” food is, I think, real Italian-American food transposed to an American restaurant setting for non-Italians.

    take spaghetti and meatballs for instance. I assume that originally at home they were eaten separately (since a major feature of Italian meals is separating the components into discrete courses). In restaurants where the American habit was to have the starch and meat together you combined them. (Same with ‘parmesan’ cutlets served with pasta).

    “the second course”

    The European “second course” is probably ‘main course’ or ‘entree’ in America (I know the latter makes no sense etymologically, but….).

    “Pasta is bread. Why do you need bread to accompany bread?”

    hmmmm as a child I like spaghetti sandwiches… as an adult I can perceive the irrationality but… yeah, I did that.

    “in Italy unless you want to see some horrified faces”

    What I don’t get is the Italian horror at the idea of pasta and chicken in the same dish…

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    1. In Russia people eat spaghetti with sugar. They sprinkle sugar on top of the cooked pasta and eat it. I find it horrid but they eat it as a main course.

      In Ukraine people who live in poverty eat boiled potato sandwiches. As much as I love potatoes, I couldn’t do it.

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      1. “spaghetti with sugar…as a main course”

        Yikes…. there’s a Polish dish (and I’ve seen the same thing in Hungary) of pasta, white cheese and sugar and there’s strawberries (crushed with maybe sugar and milk added) over pasta, but just spaghetti and sugar?

        I don’t get the point of sweet entrees at all… and was surprised at how many people in Poland think of crepes (naleśniki) with whipped cream and fruit (or chocolate sauce) as a full dinner….

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        1. Spaghetti-like pasta + sugar + ground poppy seeds is a real full dish where I come from. You can exchange poppy seeds for ground walnuts, cocoa powder or ricotta-like cheese with raisins if desired.

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            1. Poppy seeds are definitely an acquired taste, you need to grow up eating them. They are also banned in some of the Western European countries (or at least they used to be). In the US, they are treated more like a spice than a major ingredient.

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              1. ” In the US, they are treated more like a spice than a major ingredient”

                That’s me! I used to love almond poppy seed cake with poppy seeds mixed into the batter. But Central European style poppy…. mass is not something I can deal with, a taste I’m unable to acquire.

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  4. As a protein starved country, India is the champion of serving carbs with carbs. We have the famous vada-pav of Mumbai which is a potato fritter wrapped in a bun. We have the masala-dosa which is rice crepe fried in oil filled with a potato filling and the aloo-paratha, our potato-stuffed fried bread. And who can forget the samosa!

    As a foreigner I didn’t know eating bread with pasta was gauche. Now I feel more cultured. 🙂 TBH, I go to Italian restaurants mostly for the breadsticks. It is difficult to get good, fresh bread in the US and Italian restaurants often do a fair job. Perhaps they’re filling a need after all?

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  5. Not about Italians this bit, but instead about Indian food while I have a moment …

    If I’ve guessed your general location in terms of a sub-region, I see why Indian grocery stores have been a mystery.

    Your closest major city has some absolutely scary looking shops for this stuff.

    And that city’s best “international grocery” is woefully understocked when it comes to Indian food.

    Try your state capital, there appears to be at least one Indian grocery that looks like an American grocery (as in non-scary looking) with all of the Indian stuff you’d want to try.

    They have all of the spice boxes, MREs, and other stuff I’ve mentioned.

    The condition of those Indian grocery stores in your closest major city was a shock: I haven’t seen Indian grocery stores that awful looking in a very long time.

    Should you have the chance to make it to a city that has Patel Brothers, it’s really what these shops should aspire to be like, which is well-stocked, clean, brightly lit, and generally friendly.

    But bread sticks with pasta … isn’t that an Olive Garden affectation meant to get you to fill up on cheap bread sticks instead of their “unlimited” salad?

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