Yuri d’Agosto, a sophomore at the University of Oregon, wants to clear up one thing about Italian cooking: “We eat meatballs. And we don’t eat them with spaghetti.”
A native of Milan, Italy, d’Agosto isn’t sure where Americans got the idea to put spaghetti and meatballs together.
Today, d’Agosto studies economics and enjoys his fraternity at the University of Oregon. But just three years ago, he was growing up and attending high school in Milan. Milano, in Italian, is the second-largest city in Italy besides Rome. Moving to a city the size of Eugene was quite the adjustment. d’Agosto came to Oregon on an exchange, stayed with a host family and attended South Eugene High School for his senior year. From there, he decided that job opportunities were better in the United States and that he’d stay to attend college at the University of Oregon, returning to Italy during the summers.
Nonetheless, the stereotype that Italians eat a lot of pasta is 100 percent accurate. Pasta is eaten nearly every day in Italy and is often the first course of a two-part meal.
In d’Agosto’s home, breakfast is very light or not eaten at all, consisting of a glass of orange juice or a shot of espresso before heading off to school or work. Lunch is a large two-course meal, after which many people feel the need to take a nap. Dinner, also a two-course meal, is almost always eaten with family.
In the meantime, “bread is never missing from the table,” said d’Agosto. “And there’s always cheese to eat with the bread.”
He describes Milan as “old-fashioned” in that the mother of the family is always the designated cook. Even as time has gone on and more mothers have begun to work, they still continue to take on the role of the household chef. When asked about foods that remind him of home, d’Agosto is quick to reply with, “Anything my mom makes.”
It’s also a custom in Italy to bring a gift whenever you go over to another’s home for dinner. This is usually wine or dessert. d’Agosto’s favorite dessert is tiramisu, which he has made for himself several times here in the United States.
Another important thing to know is that in Italy, eating pizza requires a different method of devouring depending on the style of pizza you’re dealing with. But if you’re eating a classic, thin-crust Italian pizza, here’s what you do: Cut a medium-sized, rectangular piece of the pizza using a fork and knife. Pick up the rectangular slice with your hands and fold it in half. Inhale it.
For an Italian dish that’s simple to make, try d’Agosto’s recipe for tiramisu. Buon appetito!
What you’ll need:
A rectangular baking pan
2 cups mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brewed coffee
cocoa powder (to taste)
Package of ladyfinger cookies
What to do:
1) Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Whip the egg whites.
2) Separately, blend the yolks with sugar until it becomes creamy and light.
3) Add the egg whites to the cream by mixing from the bottom upwards, making delicate movements.
4) Cover the bottom of the pan with a first layer of cream. Dip the ladyfingers in coffee and cover the layer of cream with the wet cookies. Cover this layer of ladyfingers with a new layer of cream.
5) Repeat this process twice, finishing with a layer of cream and covering it in cocoa.
6) Put the tiramisu in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours.