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Do You Know What Italian Food Is? I Don't Think So

Do you know Italian food? I do—and we don't have much of it in South Jersey.

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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Sandra Joan June 08, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Have you eaten at Sapori or Il Fiore?
Future Old Angry Italian Guy June 08, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Well, of course, Einstein! Do you think this is 1950? There a select few places in Philly and Atlantic City that have authentic cuisine, period. Did you and Valiante team up to write obvious and pathetic articles?
Chef Fred June 08, 2012 at 03:23 PM
I have eaten at Sapori. Thought it was very good.
Chef Fred June 08, 2012 at 03:26 PM
I'll take that as a compliment, Einstein and I share the same birth date and heritage. Are you sure you're not a Old Angry Italian Guy now? My friends and customers will understand this---Beware the Attack Chef
Alison Perry June 08, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Anyone of Italian heritage knows that the food that is served in "Italian" restaurants differs vastly from the food served in Italy which varies by region. Not sure what your point is, but I wouldn't go to the Northwest US and expect to find great Southern Style cooking or a terrific cheesesteak in Florida.
Future Old Angry Italian Guy June 08, 2012 at 11:34 PM
I am but back to your column.
Darren Gladden June 09, 2012 at 12:03 AM
Nice Read ,,,,,,,,,Better reading then what that Joshua Berry writes OMG .........Just care , I do ..Now pass the bread
occupythemall June 10, 2012 at 09:07 PM
I guess that next you will be saying Taco Bell is not Mexican food...
Samantha June 10, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Well, actually, Taco Bell is NOT Mexican food. Far from it. That would be like comparing Burger King to a Texas BBQ joint. Sheesh.
Paul J. DiBartolo June 10, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Wow, a little more vitriol on here and I'll feel right at home as if I was reading some Gloucester Township political commentary.
Ric June 10, 2012 at 11:51 PM
What kind of Italian food do you feel is real Italian food? The stuff eaten today, or a hundred years ago, or back in Ancient Roman times?
occupythemall June 11, 2012 at 12:06 AM
sarcasm A form of humor that is marked by mocking with irony, sometimes conveyed in speech with vocal over-emphasis. Insincerely saying something which is the opposite of one's intended meaning, often to emphasize how unbelievable or unlikely it sounds if taken literally, thereby illustrating the obvious nature of one's intended meaning.
DaveM June 16, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Many Italian restaurant owners in Hammonton if they read this article will most likely send their buddies over to make a personal statement directly to Fred's house or business.

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