Food Network Magazine Educates Readers on Italian Food
The Food Network Magazine surprised me by dedicating the entire March 2017 issue to Italian food. Of course, one cover featured Food Network star chef Giada De Laurentiis and the other featured her lemon spaghetti. This issue of the magazine has a few purposes that interest us.
In March, Food Network Magazine educates Americans on authentic Italian food traditions, offers interesting recipes, and provides new twists on old favorites. That’s why I recommend investing in the Food Network Magazine issue (or borrowing a copy from someone who has a subscription) even if you learned everything you ever needed to know from Nonna or Mamma.
While Americans still have serious misconceptions about what Italian food really is, Food Network Magazine goes a long way to try and separate fact from fiction. For starters, the cover star lends credibility. De Laurentiis, whose grandfather Agostina “Dino” De Laurentiis was a famous film producer and grandmother Silvana Mangano was a famous actress in Italy, was born in Rome herself. Her stories and recipes offer insight into the Italian experience. She’s usually great about providing information on authentic Italian dishes. Just by having her or her recipe (depending on whether you’re a subscriber or newsstand purchaser) on the cover gave the impression that this would be the real deal.
Food Network Attempts to Undo Ugly American Syndrome
Next, the magazine’s Editor in Chief Maile Carpenter sweetly revealed how she and her husband immediately gave away their Americanness on a recent trip to Milan by trying to order an iced latte in Italy. There’s no such thing there. After that flub, the couple ordered only cappuccinos and always before noon to comply with societal standards, she wrote. What she doesn’t know is that every Italian I know pokes fun at tourists for even drinking cappuccinos; real Italians never order them. My Italian friends identify you as tourists if that’s on your order.
Still, Carpenter admits that authentic Italians, who immigrated, and their authentic food have been Americanized over the years, and she unashamedly boasted about some of these Italian American hybrids, which are featured in the issue, including tiramisu doughnuts and pizzagna (a combination of pizza and lasagna that has me intrigued). Another story, “How Italian Is It?” features a photo and brief history of dishes commonly associated with Italian food, such as Penna alla Vodka and Eggplant Parmesan,” to help you identify which you’ll find in Italy and which are an Italian American thing. You might be surprised at what you discover. (At the same time, there are probably many foods you didn’t know were Italian.)
The cover boasts 101 recipes, and most of them had my mouth watering. In fact, the food porn in this issue would be triple X rated if food porn was really porn. The ones I’m most interested in trying are meatball marsala, tortellini in brood, and just about everything in the “50 Antipasto” booklet that comes with the issue. Oh yeah, you don’t want to miss inventive suggestions for bruschetta, rosemary-lemon frico, and arancini.
I know what you’re thinking, “You must already have some of these recipes and they are from your family and they are therefore probably better.” That’s true, I do have some of these recipes. But I find trying different versions of recipes helps you build on your repertoire. It also makes the original recipe that much better because you can blend the best of both.
In conclusion, I am thrilled to see that Food Network Magazine is sharing Italian cuisine – both the authentic version and the Italian American evolution and invention of certain recipes. My only complaint about the issue is that the celebrity chefs asked to share their favorite places in Italy to visit ignored Ischia, the small island off the coast of Naples that is home to my ancestors and husband. Capri was on the list, but they don’t know the culinary masterpieces they are missing in our native Ischia.
Di Meglio has written the Our Paesani column for ItaliansRus.com since 2003. You can follow the Italian Mamma on Facebook or Twitter @ItalianMamma10. For more handmade crafts and party gear, visit the Italian Mamma store on Etsy.