The 4 Italian Food Faux Pas that Will Make Any Nonna Scream


Italians are a notoriously passionate people, dedicated to their food, drink, and making a mockery of anybody who dares to put a non traditional twist on it.

This carries down from the grandmother of the Italian family, also known as nonna.

Italian nonnas are known for their warm hospitality, fiery temperaments and unparalleled home cooking talents.

If you’re planning a trip or just looking to impress the special someone in your life, these are the locals and family members that you’ll want to win the affections of.

But where do you start?

We recommend that you get acquainted with the dos and don’ts of Italian cuisine, and there are a fair few of them.

Keep reading and we’ll take you on a whistle stop tour of the top four Italian food faux pas to avoid to keep nonna on your good side.

The 4 Italian Food Faux Pas:


1. Not knowing your wine.

If you know anything about Italian cuisine, you’ll be well aware that they like their wine.

Across many European cultures, alcohol is a standard part of the dining experience, viewed as a social activity.

Despite a legal drinking age of 18, children are often eased into drinking with meals.

With drinking so embedded into Italian culture, there’s a strong preference for wine or water to be consumed with any big meal.

You’d be remiss to go out and order the wrong beverage with your plate of Italian delicacies.

Before you get stuck into your dinner, get to know which wines pair nicely with what dishes.

2. Getting caught out with ketchup.

Italy is the home of the tomato.

Yes, you might think of opera, Roman architecture, and high fashion, too, but does anything sum up the wider world’s relationship with Italia more succinctly than the simple red fruit?

And yes, it’s a fruit, kind of.

Whether decorating pizzas or sumptuously drizzled over freshly made penne, the humble tomato is practically a food group in itself in il bel paese.

However, there’s one popular tomato product that the rest of us adore and the Italians despise.

Whether you’re attending dinner in the rolling hills of Tuscany or lunching in a trendy Milan trattoria, ketchup is no ordinary condiment, in fact, it’s deadly contraband.

A recent poll on culinary offenses revealed that Italians find eating ketchup with pasta the most egregious of sins, trumping other divisive habits like adding cheese to seafood dishes and having garlic bread as a side.

As for the last one, we’re not quite sold, who doesn’t like garlic bread?

3. Adding cream to carbonara.

The ingredients that go into a carbonara have been long debated among factions of society, with conflicts boiling over and stirring lengthy arguments at the family dinner table.

According to, traditional carbonara “contains no cream, just eggs and cheese.

The eggs and cheese are added to the hot pasta and tossed together until a silky sauce forms”.

But as times change and tastes develop, budding would be chefs have added cream, white wine, and even swapped out the classic pasta shapes of spaghetti and rigatoni for something else.

The truth is, there’s no absolute authority that can decide what you should be putting into your iterations of this classic Roman dish, but the closest we’ve got is the Italian people.

So what do they have to say on the matter?

Well, by all accounts, it’s a hard no to cream.

While egg whites add richness to a smooth carbonara sauce, cream makes it heavy.

Sure, Italian food is certainly known for being a bit of a carb fest, but this Americanized twist is frowned upon in the homeland of pasta.

4. Topping pizza with pineapple.

You already saw this one coming.

Hawaiian pizza lovers of the world, look away now, unsurprisingly, Italians aren’t crazy about adding tangy shards of pineapple to their pizzas.

Italians are famously conservative with their traditional dishes.

Roman blogger Valerio Angelici explains that his people are “strongly bonded to the traditional cuisine, so many of us refuse to accept innovation, variations and contaminations from other parts of the world.”

In fact, there is an unwritten rulebook in Italy that comes metaphorically served with your slices.

For example, did you know that waiting for your pizza to cool down is considered an insult to the pizza maker?

Or that you should only drop the knife and fork and pick up your slice once a small portion is left?

The more you know.

So there you have it.

Four Italian food faux pas that you’d be better off leaving at home, lest your rulebreaker behavior is spotted by one of Italy’s gastronomical grandmothers.

Still, we wouldn’t blame you if you did succumb to temptation every now and then.

Wine is expensive and ketchup is cheap!

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