How Italian Food impacted America

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There are two forms of Scampi depending on the part of the world you are in. One form of scampi is a dish of large shrimp prepared with a garlic-flavored sauce, and the other is large shrimp that are often breaded and fried. Either definition is correct; it is just different ways to prepare this dish. The first definition is the American style version on scampi while the second defines the Italian version.

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American style shrimp scampi

            According to ifood.tv, “shrimp scampi was first mentioned in the American cookbooks published in 1920”. In these cookbooks, the scampi was mentioned as a “dish cooked with shrimps which had been basted with olive oil, white wine, garlic and butter”. This dish is mostly consisted of shrimp while lobster, scallops and other shellfish could dominate other scampi. The American style scampi seems to be the most popular version, but this also may just be because I live in America and that is what is offered to me, making this is the style that I prefer and my choice to make as my meal. With scampi, the combinations are almost endless just as long as there is some type of pasta and some type of shellfish that is smothered in olive oil, wine, garlic, and butter. The American style scampi is very simple but also elegant at the same time.

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The breaded and fried scampi version

            The breaded version of scampi, or the Italian style recipe “gained popularity in America after the World War II with the Tenakill Restaurant of New Jersey being the first to advertise the dish” (ifood.tv). After this, the Italian style of scampi became more popular is the United States and it started moving across the country. This style is still not as popular as the American style, but it’s just because it is a different way to prepare the meal. Honestly, it is a completely different meal. The American style is light and very juicy, while the Italian style is heavy and dry.

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     Patsy’s Inn, one of the oldest italian restaurants in Denver.       

Italian food has a great impact on our American cuisine today since it immigrated over here in the 1920s. The reason why Italian food became so popular is because the restaurants that served pure Italian food also “always served their patrons homemade wine and grappa”. And who could not turn down free alcohol?! Travelers would come from all over to try this new food cuisine and in the end started to enjoy Italian food. This soon made this cuisine start spreading like rapid fire and now Italian restaurants are all over the place, ranging from fine dining to a quick bite.

            Both of these scampi seem like completely different meals, but in the end, they both consist of the same essential ingredients, but they are just prepared differently to obtain different tastes. 

Problems making Scampi

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When making the shrimp scampi, I thought I was going to run into a ton of problems, but luckily I seemed to be able to conquer this meal pretty well. I tried to strategize and make sure that the first time I made this dish was with my dad, just in case I ran into and problems he was there to rescue me. The first time I made the scampi, one problem my dad and I came across was that we did not understand the cooking terms. The recipe called for a half of lemon “zested” which I wasn’t exactly sure what this was. After looking it up on the internet, I realized that I was correct and actually knew that zesting a lemon required grating the outside peal of the lemon, but I was glad that I double checked because I would have been very upset if that ruined my entire recipe. After my dad and I looked over what the dish called for and understood all the terms, we started cooking the meal.

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The second problem that we came across while cooking was that my dad and I did not time the cooking process as well as we planned. We were supposed to start cooking the pasta earlier because it took the longest to cook, which made us stall the other processes. The recipe was very detailed and explained well how to time cooking it, we just did not follow correctly. It was stressful at the time, but in the end, everything ended well and the meal tasted good. I was honestly surprised that I did not run into more complications and proud that I was able to successfully complete this meal.

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The second time I made scampi was when I was back at school and did not have my dad’s help so I was a little more afraid that this meal was not going to be as good. This time I made this recipe for my friend Jasmine and my roommate Vanessa. The biggest difference with this recipe compared to the first one is the amount of garlic, which i thought gave the meal more taste. This recipe was also easier to follow and did not have specific time restraints, which i think was a big reason this meal was easier for me to make. One problem that I encountered was that I had to buy a lot more to prepare the meal because I did not just have all these ingredients in my apartment because I have never needed to cook something this complicated and never needed to follow a recipe. I was really stupid though because I should have found a recipe before I left home because I could have brought most of the ingredients since the recipe that I chose to prepare called for most of the same ingredients, so I wasted a lot of money re buying. The hardest thing I had to tackle was finding some way to get wine because I did not bring the wine from home. It took a while finding someone that was 21 to buy it for me, but a friend of a friend came through and helped me out. I did not have many other problems with this recipe because it was way simpler than the one I made with my dad. I would say that the only problem that I had when actually cooking the meal was mixing the pasta and the shrimp all together because there was so much in the pan. It was hard to keep it all in there while also mixing it well.

I was honestly surprised because I actually enjoyed the scampi that I made on my own more than the first one, with my dad’s help. This made me feel really good about myself and made me more confident as a cook because I did not need anyone’s assistance.

My connection to Scampi

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I chose to make a shrimp scampi as my meal to prepare just because of my love for shellfish. With the help from my dad, we created very tasty scampi that I would love to remake for my friends or family. I am allergic to fish, but not shellfish, which I know is very strange and not the norm. So since I have this allergy, my dad and I have mastered some shell food dishes, but have never tried shrimp scampi, so we used this assignment as a time to learn a new dish that I am able to make on my own while I am at school, as well as a time to try something new. We chose to make the scampi because we thought that it will be simple enough for a horrible cook, like me, to manage, but also difficult enough of a meal for people to be proud of me for making.

I have tried it at multiple restaurants, and have really enjoyed the way it tasted. One problem that I have encountered with my allergy is that restaurants seem to add in other fish than just shellfish, so I have not been able to try all the dishes that I wish I could have. Scampi has intrigued me because of the lemon taste that explodes throughout my mouth when I eat it, along with the juicy noodles, instead of being creaming with thick sauce like other pastas. When I order scampi, I usually ask for an extra side of lemon to add in myself, just to make the lemon flavor pop more; in my eyes, more lemon, more taste.

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Usually, scampi is served with linguini noodles, but I prefer angel hair pasta, so my dad and I decided to find a recipe with angel hair pasta noodles instead. In doing this, I found that liked it way better without the linguini and from now on, I will always make my scampi with angel hair noodles. Switching the noodles from the thick linguini to the small and thin angel hair made the whole meal a little lighter and less dense, which I prefer.

Making this meal, has made me feel a little bit more comfortable as a chef and I am happy to say that I can now make a meal for the ones that I love and I enjoy on my own. I am happy to say that I can successfully prepare another meal.

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