I thought the best way to introduce myself and my new blog would be to insult most of the people reading it.
As if you didn’t already know, the number one favorite food or restaurant is...drum roll...ITALIAN!
But what you, the diner, don't seem to recognize is that you don’t know what Italian food is!
Now don’t get me wrong, we have some very good “Italian” restaurants all over South Jersey, but they don’t serve Italian food. They serve South Jersey or South Philly "Red," not Italian.
Many people have been fortunate enough to visit Italy, and I’m sure they can tell you that Parma is in Northern Italy and Sicily is in Southern Italy, and the two styles of food are very different.
In Parma, the food is more rustic, steeped in the traditions of long-cooked meats, sausages, Parmigiana Reggiano, beans and gnocchi.
In Sicily, an island in the Mediterranean, the food reflects island fare: lots of fish, fruit, nuts, olives, spaghetti and pecorino.
You might have noticed that I didn’t mention mozzarella cheese, veal or chicken. It's not that they don’t have them—this is a modern world we live in, and you can get anything you want. But 100 years ago, someone in Sicily wasn’t hopping a boat for Naples to get a little mozzarella for their sandwich.
So what we have here in South Jersey is true American food: a mash-up of people with different backgrounds like Parma, Naples, and Sicily, who form a rich history of American-style food that’s truly their own.
South Jersey Red: let’s own and claim it for the great thing it is.
Fred Kellermann is the owner and chef de cuisine at Elements Cafe in Haddon Heights. He is also the president of SJ Hot Chefs, and urges you to support your local restaurant with your dining-out dollars.