Pasta is a favorite cuisine of many populations across the globe, but its true “home” is in Italy, of course. People often wonder if Italians eat pasta every day since Italy is the country where pasta originated (this is somewhat disputed) and where it was perfected (this is NOT disputed), so why would they eat anything else?
And besides that, wouldn’t it be boring to eat pasta every day? You would think this would be a very monotonous diet. Let’s answer these questions once and for all.
Question: Do Italians Eat Pasta Every Day?
The short answer is “yes,” almost. For most Italians. According to recent statistics, nearly two-thirds of Italians reported eating pasta every day or almost every day. Not surprisingly, no country in the world consumes as much pasta. When you break it down, each Italian citizen eats about 50 pounds of pasta per year. (And yet they’re not fat… but that’s a discussion for another day.)
Italians tend to eat pasta EITHER at lunch time OR at dinner time, but rarely both. And certainly, pasta is not a breakfast food. Indeed, breakfast in Italy is usually quite a simple thing, like an espresso with a pastry.
But here is a fun fact: in Italian, you can also use the word “pasta” to say pastry. They are both made from a wheat-based dough, after all. At the coffee bar at breakfast time, you might hear an Italian ask for “Un caffè e una pasta, per favore.” In other words, a coffee and a pastry.
So in that sense, maybe Italians DO eat “pasta” for breakfast!
Wouldn’t Pasta Be a Boring Meal to Eat Every Day?
You might be struck with the assumption that eating pasta every single day is extremely boring and tiresome. This could be very true, if you are eating the exact same meal for seven days in a row. Sure, eating “plain pasta” every single day would be extremely boring.
BUT… you are forgetting just how versatile pasta is! There are literally an endless variety of dishes that you can make using pasta, many of which are well-renowned Italian favorites.
So then, before you say “how boring to have pasta every day” you must consider that pasta for Italian cuisine is like rice for Asian cuisine: it’s a “neutral” source of complex carbohydrates which can be dressed with nearly any type of sauce, depending on the local traditions and seasonal ingredients that are available.
Therefore, with a little imagination, an Italian could eat pasta every day for a year without ever having the same dish twice! It really is that versatile!
Pasta is the First Course in a Meal
And remember that pasta is considered a “first course” (primo piatto), so while it holds a venerated place in the Italian cooking traditions, it’s technically not even the main course, which is called “il secondo piatto.”
This is important to remember because Italians will NOT eat, for example, spaghetti and meatballs. In fact, they hate this “Americanized” dish. Why? Well, for one thing, it is not supposed to be one dish, but rather two separate ones. You eat your pasta first, whether it’s spaghetti or something else, and then you eat meatballs (polpetti) if that happens to be your main course for the evening.
Of course, Italians have some pasta dishes with meat and eggs (Carbonara), tomato sauce and meat (pasta with ragù, lasagne, pasta al forno) and many types of pasta that have different fillings (agnolotti, tortellini, ravioli, cannelloni) and many, many more.
But these are special preparations, and most of the time Italians will eat a simple plate of pasta with tomato sauce and some parmigiano cheese on top; pasta with some vegetables; or with a basil pesto.
Myth: “Italians Just Eat Spaghetti”
Another extremely common misconception is that Italians eat mostly spaghetti. In fact, pasta comes in a variety of shapes and it also comes in a range of different sizes and colors.
This is something that Italians will have a wide appreciation for, because part of the art of cooking with pasta is matching up the shapes and the sizes of the pasta with specific sauce recipes. After all, the shape and the size of pasta contributes to the textures within your meal. There is a lot more to pasta types than initially meets the (foreigners’) eyes, that’s for sure.
There are a wide range of ingredients that can enhance your pasta dish, so this should detract from the generalized image that you have of a huge bowl of plain pasta. You can add a selection of fresh vegetables along with a variety of different meats and fish. Of course, cheese is a naturally recommended pairing to have with your pasta dish, unless it is seafood based.
Pasta is also extremely versatile in the way that it can be served – because it is a dish that can be consumed hot or cold. Let’s expand on this.
Pasta is usually served piping hot, whether it’s just off the stove or right out of the oven, such as lasagna. But in the summertime, it can be served cold with a refreshing salad or with seafood to accompany it. The sauce should be very light, or better, just some salt and olive oil with a squeeze of lemon.
The great thing with pasta is it is so versatile that you can make it suit your preferences, and your personal taste buds. Whether you prefer a rich and creamy sauce, or whether you want more of a hot and spicy kick to your pasta dish, then you can definitely find a pasta dish that will suit you perfectly.
There are so many different recipes out there that you can try out – they might start off simple so that you can gradually build up to more complex recipes, but no matter what your skill level is we have no doubt that you will be able to master the art of pasta dish making.
This is why it is a meal that can be quite easily consumed every day – because you can always do something different with it at the last minute. You do not have to batch make a recipe to last you a week (in fact, you shouldn’t… pasta is ONLY served fresh!) You can source the ingredients quite easily at the local market, or they will just be at home in your cupboard and this will allow you to make a wide variety of different meals.
Too Many Carbs!
Is there such a thing as “Too Much Pasta?”
A lot of people think that pasta will make you put on a lot of weight and that there is only a certain amount that you should consume in a week. Well, this is another myth that we are going to bust.
We can confirm that pasta is no different to any other carbohydrate – it should be eaten in moderation. But for whatever reason, it has attracted an especially bad reputation that it is really bad for you, and that pasta will make you fat. This is entirely false.
You just need to make sure that you know your limits and that you do not have a crazy overhaul of carbs with every single meal. But, that is standard for every individual.