Mohammad K
Community Tutor
Italian food lover, what do you think?
Everytime I share a photo from an Italian restaurant in Jordan or in another Middle Eastern country, my Italian friends just jump in and say: "buon appetito!" but this sounds a false Italian food; we never combine pasta and chicken in a single plate!!

Ok, this is a repetitive debate that I think Italians usually have with their friends overseas, and I can see 2 opposite yet valid arguments about this:

1. Italian food should always keep its original version, no matter where and when, otherwise, it can't be called Italian any more. So, feel free to call Hawaiian pizza and pasta Alfredo anything but Italian!

2. There are regional differences and each country has its own expectations and scale of any meal to be considered tasty, healthy and complete. For example, here in Jordan and the Middle East in general, we are used to eating chicken or meet along with the rice, pasta, potato in the similar dish, so it would be more acceptable by people to localize any international imported dish and so on.

What experience do you have of Italian food in your country? And which argument would you rather?
Jun 2, 2020 7:46 AM
Comments · 18
In my region, we don’t have Italian restaurants but the local restaurants serve Spaghetti 🍝 and pizza 🍕 but according to the Iraqi taste, lol.
I like mozzarella so much.
June 2, 2020
I go to Italian restaurants with Italian chefs. If not, with chefs who have actually worked in Italian restaurants in Italy. I respect the ways they do things in Italy. I'm sure there are a lot of Italian-style or fusion dishes that taste just as good, but I would like to enjoy traditional dishes with history and direct cultural connections with the people.
June 2, 2020
You've really enriched the discussion by sharing your thoughts.
Same here in Jordan, we're used to happily calling several dishes simply: Italian, Mexican and Chinese, no matter how far or close they are to the original versions of the homeland.
To me, if the dish isn't 100% Italian that doesn't mean it's no longer Italian or it turns into some new category, but at the same time I have a big issue with restaurants that market themselves as "authentic" Italian restaurants but they change the ingredients and you don't really live the actual Italian exprrience eating at them.
June 2, 2020
In my home country, we have our own versions of pizza and pasta that would probably make the more pretentious, food-preservationist types faint. Pineapple on pizza? Beans and chilli peppers on pizza? Pasta with chicken as a main ingredient in the sauce? How dare they!

I have to say that I have little patience with the first argument, that is, that dishes should be preserved in their original form and that any deviation isn't real or is an abomination. No dish stays exactly as it was the first time it was made. We don't have the same ingredients all over the world, we don't have exactly the same tastes, we don't have the same food sensitivities, and after all, the best dishes emerge when you work with what you have, not what some cultural authority thinks you ought to use. They also don't get to decide what people call a dish or how they perceive it.

I'll keep making pizza without wheat and putting whatever I like on it, and yes, that includes chicken. I will call it pizza because that's what it is.
June 2, 2020
It's not Italian though; it is Italian style. When we adapt something it is no longer the original, but a new version that is inspired by but no longer Italian. It applies to any cuisine. I had this argument with my Lebanese husband about my ideas to customise tabbouleh by my substituting one ingredient for another; according to him the result was no longer tabbouleh but some invention of my own.
June 2, 2020
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Mohammad K
Language Skills
Arabic, Arabic (Levantine), Arabic (Modern Standard), English, German, Italian, Turkish
Learning Language
Italian, Turkish