The Worst Food Mistakes to Make, According to Italians

Holly Riddle

By Holly Riddle

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Italian margherita pizza.

It’s no secret that Italian cuisine underwent some serious changes once it reached American soil. From pizza to lasagna to pasta Bolognese, Americans have put their own spin on classic Italian dishes — sometimes to the point that, if you were to put an American variant next to the real deal from Italy in a taste teste, you might not even think the two dishes were the same thing. 

Additionally, it’s no secret that Italians can be pretty outspoken about the food mistakes that those without Italian heritage often make when attempting to replicate Italian dishes. Just take a look at the wildly popular Twitter account “Italians Mad at Food” and you’ll see all sorts of hot takes, critiquing pizza toppings, discussing the “right” and “wrong” way to make carbonara, and more. That said, as one recent survey proved, some food mistakes are worse than others, according to Italians.

The worst Italian food mistakes to make

Italian fettucine pasta wrapped around a fork over a black bowl.

Bonus Finder recently conducted a survey in Italy, asking more than a thousand adults around the country to name the worst offenses someone could make against their homeland’s cuisine. The results?

Italians said that the absolute worst ways you could mess up your Italian food were by putting ketchup on your spaghetti, putting pineapple on your pizza, placing your pasta in cold water before bringing it to a boil, cutting spaghetti or linguine with a knife as you’re eating, or, lastly, refusing to share your food with others. 

Of course, most will probably agree that putting ketchup on your spaghetti isn’t exactly ideal. Not only are you not getting the delicious flavors of a slow-simmered tomato sauce — even better if it’s made with tomatoes fresh from your own garden or the farmers market — but ketchup is notoriously full of added sugars.

The Italians might also have a point when it comes to their disdain for putting pasta in cold water and then boiling it. A food stylist and “pasta expert” told TODAY that the reason why it’s important to add your pasta to your water only after the water reaches a boiling point all comes down to science. The pasta’s exposure to the cold-then-hot water can impact the texture. Additionally, the fluctuations in water temperature can cause uneven cooking — and, if you add your salt to the cold water, too, it might not dissolve in time to truly and thoroughly flavor your pasta. 

But the pineapple on pizza? Is it really a big deal? According to a 2021 survey by YouGov, more than a quarter of the American population likes this pizza topping, though the top-favorite pizza toppings in America were, by far, pepperoni, sausage, and mushrooms (for comparison, the survey found that the least-favorite pizza toppings in America include anchovies, eggplant, artichokes, and broccoli). 

Still, despite those who will defend pineapple on their pizza, Italians told Bonus Finder that putting pineapple on pizza was, simply, “upsetting” — with survey respondents in Naples, aka, the place that actually invented pizza, raising the largest outcry.