If you’re Italian American, then you must be a wooden spoon survivor. Doubling as a kitchen utensil and an effective disciplinary tool, the wooden spoon is a monumental instrument in the home. There is nothing like seeing your mom or Nonna grab the wooden spoon to stir the sauce, pasta, or whatever delicious meal only they can make.
Italians love their espresso and it’s brewing in their DNA. Consuming the beverage is essential in an Italian’s daily routine. You know you’ve just walked into an Italian American home if you see a Moka pot on the stove. Strong, deep and aromatic - caffe all’italiana is always the way to go!
Plastic Food Containers
Have you ever opened your refrigerator to grab the plastic container of yogurt just to find out it’s leftover red sauce or filled with cheese? That’s how you know you’re in the home of an Italian American - the masters of reusing plastic containers.
Cupboard Full of Pasta
A good Italian home is always stocked with pounds of pasta. Since Italians tend to eat pasta at lunch or dinner there are always plenty of options available. At any given moment, you can whip up a delicious meal for your friends and family since pasta is central to the Italian food pyramid.
Without a doubt, olive oil is a cornerstone of Italian cooking. Not only is it a food staple but it’s also a frequently used ingredient. It’s not surprising that Italians are willing to splurge on high quality EVOO but you’d never know it since it’s usually found in a labeless glass or plastic bottle around the kitchen.
Blocks of Cheese
Cheese manages to find its way into everything in Italian cuisine. If you’re a true Italian, cheese will always be on your table and in your refrigerator. From fresh mozzarella and ricotta, to grated Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano, a meal doesn’t exist without cheese so watch out if a hungry Italian has run out of this indispensable condiment!
As an Italian American, the summer season is considered the tomato olympics. A key feature in any Italian home is canned or jarred tomatoes that will turn into your mom or nonna’s special red sauce. The late summer is when Italian families take to their backyards, garages or driveways to jar tomatoes that will typically be used for the rest of the year. This is one of the most beloved traditions surrounding an essential Italian ingredient.
In Italian households that make a lot of pasta, useful kitchen tools are a must. The spider strainer might be one of the most reached for items to transport pasta. The ability to avoid hot boiling water and splattering olive oil while adding pasta to sauce is a home cook’s dream.
It’s impossible to walk into an Italian kitchen without stumbling upon at least one large pot. Used for sauce or boiling water, this pot is a fixture and one of the main characters of the kitchen. For those of us that love Tomie dePaola’s children's book, Strega Nona, we all know that the pasta pot has magical powers and is always ever-full.
Arianna DiCicco is an educator and writer from California, born into an Italian American restaurant family with strong ties to her grandparents’ home in Abruzzo, Italy. She has lived in San Francisco, Rome and New York City where she’s made deep connections within the Italian communities and gained new perspectives about her own culture. With a Masters in International Education, Arianna has a love and passion for learning and educating others about Italian history & culture.