Does Raw Food Have a Place in Italian Cuisine?

Yes, raw food definitely has a place in Italian dishes. If you visit an Italian restaurant, you’ll likely encounter dishes with names that include the word “crudo.” Crudo literally means “raw” in Italian, and dishes made of raw foods include pesce crudo (“raw fish”) and carne cruda (literally, “raw meat,” a dish that is similar to steak tartare.

If you’re considering switching to a raw foods diet, or looking to include more raw meals in your diet, you may wonder if you can still eat out with friends and family. After all, you probably won’t want to visit a restaurant where you can’t eat anything, but have to watch your loved ones fill themselves with delicious dishes. However, there are a number of cuisines that can accommodate a raw diet, including Italian.

Do They Eat Raw Meat in Italy?

There aren’t many raw meat dishes in Italian cuisine, aside from ones like carne cruda (also known as carne cruda all’albese) and carpaccio. However, keep in mind that this is terms of Italian food as a whole, and some Italians may incorporate more raw meat dishes in their diet.

If you’re ordering carne cruda or carpaccio in an Italian restaurant, you should first make sure that the meat is actually raw. Some locations use cured meat in their dishes instead and, while this may not affect the taste of the dish, it does mean that those dishes are no longer considered raw foods.

What Country Eats Raw?

There are a number of countries that incorporate raw foods in their diet. Two of the most prominent ones are Japan and Ethiopia.

Japan

Japan is probably the first country that comes to mind when thinking about raw fish and meat given the popularity of sashimi. Additionally, some types of sushi also include raw ingredients (though, unlike sashimi, it is not a prequisite).

Raw fish and meat is popular in Japan due to the popularity of condiments like wasabi and soy sauce. Both these condiments have good antibacterial properties, helping to reduce the risk of food poisoning. Additionally, food preparation is often safer and much more standardized in Japan, allowing for the consumption of raw animal based foods relatively safely – including raw eggs, which are often recommended against in many other countries.

Another reason for the popularity is the relative rarity of parasites associated with raw meat and fish. Again, this makes eating raw dishes like sashimi (raw fish) and yukhoe (raw meat, generally raw beef) relatively safe.

Ethiopia

Raw meat dishes are an important part of Ethiopian culture. Meat consumption plays an important role during celebrations, but there are certain restrictions on it. For example, culturally processing and cooking poultry is a gender-based activity, and also has certain sociocultural expectations.

Because of these cultural taboos, Ethiopians are limited in terms of the type of meat they can eat. Another reason for raw meats in Ethiopian cuisine is the impact of history. There are many stories about why Ethiopians eat raw meat, and one of the best known is one that says that, during the Ethiopian–Adal War, Ethiopians started eating raw beef to avoid being spotted by the enemy while trying to cook.

Finally, many Ethiopians hold traditional beliefs that eating raw meat offers nutritional benefits over cooked meat.

These factors mean that many Ethiopians consume raw meat dishes, and many Ethiopian delicacies include raw meats. The most popular meat in Ethiopia is ox, and goat is more expensive option that is eaten on special occasions.

Some popular Ethiopian raw meat dishes include there siga, gored gored, and kitfo.

What Cultures Eat Raw Food?

There are a number of countries and cultures that have a tradition of eating raw meat. Aside from Japan and Ethiopia, as mentioned above, other cultures with traditions of eating raw meat dishes include:

  • Russia
  • Brazil
  • Lebanon
  • Korea
  • Turkey
  • Numerous indigenous cultures

Some popular dishes made of raw meat include:

  • Bò Tái Chanh: A Vietnamese dish made of raw beef and lime or lemon juice. It’s similar to a ceviche, and also includes ingredients like peanuts, cilantro, and onion.
  • Parisa: Developed by French immigrants to Texas in the 1800s, this dish includes beef, onions, jalapenos, and cheese, and is marinated in lime juice before being served. If you follow a strictly raw diet, you can omit the cheese.
  • Bistec Alemán: A Chilean dish, it includes raw pork or beef, jalapenos, onions, and other ingredients.
  • Mett: A raw pork dish popular in Germany and Poland, it includes garlic, caraway, and onions aside from the meat.
  • Ossenworst: A dutch dish traditionally made of raw ox meat and flavored with spices
  • Kibbeh Nayyeh: The raw version of the popular kibbeh dish, this Lebanese meal is made of onions, bulgar, and ground meat mixed together.
  • Torisashi: A Japanese dish that is essentially raw chicken sashimi. It is accompanied by sesame seeds, salt, green onions, wasabi, mirin, and ginger. The chicken is occasionally seared very lightly, but not long enough that it can be considered “cooked.”
  • Carpaccio: An Italian dish invented by Giuseppe Cipriani from Harry’s Bar (Venice) in 1963, carpaccio consists of thinly sliced meats or fish that are served with lemon, and olive oil. Some menus also include white truffle or parmesan cheese as accompaniments. Due to the popularity of vegan diets, today you can also find carpaccio made with fruits.

Frequently Asked Questions About Eating Raw Meat

• What is the best known raw meat dish?

Perhaps the best known raw meat dish that most people will have heard of is steak tartare. It is made of ground beef or horse meat, served with seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, onions, and occasionally raw egg yolk on top.

The word “tartare” is occasionally used to describe other raw food dishes that are prepared in the same way (serving a finely chopped main ingredient with similar accompaniments), including salmon tartare and avocado tartare.

• Can you eat a raw meat dish with pasta in a raw diet?

Pasta should not be eaten raw, and cooking it means it can no longer be considered part of a raw food diet. However, you can make “pasta” with other ingredients, like zucchini spaghetti (made of zucchini shaped to resemble spaghetti). You can then add raw meat to the dish, or any other raw ingredients you like.

Brett White