PJ Tucker Says American Italian Is Better Than Italian Food In Italy

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Philadelphia 76ers power forward PJ Tucker has played all around the world. He’s done more globetrotting than the actual Globetrotters at this point.

Thanks to his international hoops CV it has also allowed him to try food from around the world. But that led to one statement in a recent interview that raised some eyebrows: he said the Italian food in America is better than the Italian food in Italy.

After playing one season with the Toronto Raptors in 2007, Tucker went abroad. He bounced around to leagues in Ukraine, Israel, Greece, Italy and Germany.

During the 2010-11 season Tucker wound signed with Greek club Aris Thessaloniki. However, partway through that season he was waived and signed with Italy’s Fabi Shoes Montegranaro.

“There’s nothing like going to a restaurant on the water in Thessaloniki,” Tucker told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

I can only imagine. Greek food is great and stuffing spanakopita while looking at the crystalline blue Mediterranean off the coast sounds incredible.

Now, I bet that the Italian food he had that same season was something else too.

“I wasn’t a big fan of Italy. Italian food in America is way better than Italian food in Italy.”


PJ Tucker’s basketball career has taken him all around the world. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

There Might Be Some Truth To Tucker’s Point

This statement got me thinking. At first, I was stunned. How could Italian Italian food (or as they call it, “food”) not be better than what we’ve got stateside?

I’ve never been to Italy, though I have taken more than a few detours through the Italian Pavilion at Epcot. If you do that enough — and buy enough Peronis and slices of prosciutto e melon pizza — they should stamp your government-issued passport and count it as a real trip.

But, alas, they do not do this… yet.

So, I heard the opinions of some folks who have been to Italy (Fun Fact: on maps, it looks like a boot) and the findings were shocking. It was a small sample size, yes, but everyone who had been there preferred American Italian food, just the same as PJ Tucker.

The argument was that in many parts of this country — specifically the New York-New Jersey area — you can get Italian food made by people who came to this country straight from Italy.

It’s All In The Tastebuds, Buds

There could also be some merit to the idea that our tastebuds have adapted to American Italian food and so the Italian version doesn’t taste the same.

An extreme example of this is if you went to Mexico, but your only experience with Mexican food came via Taco Bell. That’s all well and good, but it would change your perception — and tastebuds — in relation to Mexican food. Legit, delicious Mexican food wouldn’t taste as good to you because it wasn’t familiar. Plus, you aren’t washing it down with a Baja Blast.

It’s all in what we’re used to.

Tucker did say in the same interview that he was a big fan of the food in Toronto, where he played briefly, and singled out the city’s Little Italy.

However, on the topic of Canadian grub, he’s not a fan of poutine. His response when asked about the delicious dish comprised of fries, gravy, and cheese curds?

“Uh, no. I’m not a big fan of it.”

Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle

Written by Matt Reigle

Matt is a University of Central Florida graduate and a long-suffering Philadelphia Flyers fan living in Orlando, Florida. He can usually be heard playing guitar, shoe-horning obscure quotes from The Simpsons into conversations, or giving dissertations to captive audiences on why Iron Maiden is the greatest band of all time.

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