The Real OG: an Olive Garden opens in Sioux City, Iowa

From the immortal pages of the Sioux City Journal, there is word of an Olive Garden opening. Read the article and I guarantee a good belly laugh. Following the link is my letter to the article's author, John Quinlan. I eagerly await his reply.

Dear Mr. Quinlan

As I read in horror about the opening of the Olive Garden in Sioux City, it should be noted that the signature Olive Garden dishes mentioned in the article have zero to do with Tuscany. For example, Fettucine Alfredo was created in Rome (a version of it can be found and is called Fettucine burro parmigiano ), Shrimp Primavera did not originate in Italy: Primavera was created at Le Cirque restaurant in New York City, during the 1970s, albeit by the Tuscan-born restauranteur Sirio Maccioni. Spaghetti and meatballs is an Italian American creation, perhaps inspired by polpettone, a meatball dish served in Southern Italy without pasta. Same with Chicken Parmigiana, an Italian American dish. Lobster spaghetti is a specialty of the Amalfi Coast south of Naples in the Campania region, not Tuscany. The pork filettino with the rosemary and potatoes in EVOO is the closest thing to Tuscany that is served. Rosemary grows all over Tuscany and Tuscany is famous for its EVOO.

OG is clever because they use Tuscany as a marketing motif because most Americans consider it the quintessential Italian region, yet serve Southern Italian/Italian American inspired fare that has been stereotyped as the representative of Italian cuisine. If OG really were to serve Tuscan cuisine, it would be too rustic and simple for most people's palates. But that's why OG is successful...they've got a formula.

Adrian Reynolds

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