The Difference Between Pepperoni In Italy And The US

The US has a tendency to want to Americanize cuisines while passing them off as the real thing. Chimichangas are not Mexican, but in fact come from Arizona, and crispy shell tacos (as opposed to soft tortillas) are also decidedly not Mexican, at least if you ask chef Aarón Sánchez. Bicultural Mama has a similar list of inauthentic Chinese foods, which include favorites like chop suey, crab rangoon, egg foo young, and even duck sauce!

As for Italian foods, if you're looking for authentic, go for a place that serves bolognese with tagliatelle and not spaghetti, meatballs and spaghetti separately, and no garlic bread (via Flavours Holiday). Knowing all this, it is no wonder that pepperoni is also not always authentically Italian. The word pepperoni was invented by Americans; in Italy they typically serve spiced salami as their meaty pizza topping of choice. In fact, in Italy, Peperone (as they spell it) means something very different indeed.

Peperone and Pepperoni are on two different parts of the food pyramid

Science Direct describes pepperoni as a "raw sausage made from beef and pork or pork only." It's a common meat topping for many a hungry American pizza eater (36% of all pizzas in the US, to be exact). But in Italy, the meaning is a bit different. Peperone actually translates to roasted red bell peppers, according to HuffPost. While that does sound like a delicious pizza topping in its own right, it's not exactly a meat-eater's dream come true. 

So how do you order your meat pie like a true Italian? Thought Co suggests ordering a "salame or salamino piccante, or salsiccia piccante (spicy salame or dried sausage)". While not an exact substitute for American pepperoni, they guarantee you won't be disappointed with the swap. At the very least, you definitely won't be as disappointed as if you'd gotten peppers. They also note that this often affords you the ability to try regional specialties, as the type of meat in the salumi can vary based on where you are in the country. So the next time you order a pepperoni pie at a quality Italian restaurant — especially if you're in Italy — don't be surprised if it's not what you'd expected.