Italian food stereotypes and commonplaces. Truth or lie?

Have you ever wondered if what you see in movies is true? If restaurants in Italy have white and red checked tablecloths and if Italians cook pasta with meatballs?
Here are the most popular Italian food stereotypes and clichés explained.

Fettuccine Alfredo

According to history, Fettuccine Alfredo was born in 1908 when restaurateur Alfredo Di Lelio in order to satisfy his wife Ines who was expecting a baby and wanted an energetic pasta, cooked one based on only three ingredients: fettuccine, butter and parmesan cheese. Fettuccine Alfredo became extremely famous in the USA and is still considered an Italian cuisine symbol in America.

Even though the recipe was born in Italy, no Italian restaurant serves fettuccine Alfredo, much less with chicken as an accompaniment. Most Italians probably do not even know that it was born in their country.

Cappuccino after breakfast

Everybody knows Cappuccino! The typical Italian beverage that contains the perfect balance of espresso, steamed milk and foam but not everyone knows when it’s time to drink it.

In Italy, it’s typically associated with breakfast and as such it’s consumed in the early and mid-morning. You can try to order it in the afternoon or along with meals and it maybe could be brought to you but it’s not something Italians typically have after 11 am.

White and red checked tablecloths

It’s pretty easy to spot this kind of tablecloth in movies and tv series especially if there’s an Italian restaurant scene so that now it is perpetually linked in our minds with Italian cuisine. As a result, the iconic cloth is mostly used in Italy in tourist restaurants to strengthen the stereotype and to attract customers but it’s difficult to see it in the ones frequented by Italian people.

Carbonara with cream or mushrooms

Carbonara is probably one of the most famous Italian recipes in the world and definitely one of the most misunderstood.
If you want to try the original one I suggest you eat it in Rome, its home city. While it’s pretty easy to find it in other Italian cities it’s rarely cooked in the right way and abroad it has become something else entirely.

The real carbonara is only made of egg yolks, guanciale (which is pork cheek and not bacon), cheeses like parmesan and pecorino, salt and a lot of black pepper. Its creaminess is given by the yolks and cheeses mix and not by any cream.
A lot of restaurants abroad cook it with cream, mushrooms or parsley but it’s not at all how it’s supposed to be.

Pasta with meatballs

While cooking pasta and meatballs may admittedly happen Italians do not usually eat them together in the same dish. It’s much more likely to eat pasta with ragu sauce or meatballs alone.


My hairstyle has a life of its own and likes to change a lot; My phone is always nearby but I still manage to miss every call; Netflix constantly asks me “Are you still watching?”. Passionate reader, restless writer.

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