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Wednesday 26 May 2010
Italians at the table- eating Italian
Simply put, Italians love food. The ceasefire of commercial hostilities in the middle of the day is largely so that everyone can go home and have a rollicking-good lunch. Various kinds of food cultivation and production have been part of the phisycal landscape for thousands of years, becoming deeply ingrained upon the psyche. Food is celebrated, newspapers carry olive oil reviews, mention of a classic dish brings an appreciative murmur is almost any social solution. Breakfast almost doesn't exist in Italy. At home Italians have a large bowl of warm milk with some coffee in it and biscuits or a croissant. In a coffe bar it might be one the myriad styles of coffee with a custard-filled brioche or light pastry. Lunch is the main game and can have several courses, typically one of pasta and one of meat, along with vegetables side-dishes, salad, bread and wine. Dinner is much the same thing and can be extended with an appetizer such as bruschetta, finger food etc, soup and fruit. The Italian expression 'siamo alla frutta' (we're at the fruit) to indicate that they have finished something; if it's the end of an Italian meal, it might have been a long road indeed!
Decoding your Italian menu doesn't require the help of Da Vinci. The order is starter- antipasto (little fresh meats always served fresh and small selection of cheeses); then a first course- primo (usually a pasta dish or a soup); a second course- secondo (usually meat dishes) and side course- contorno (vegetables on the side), finally dessert-dolce, coffee-caffè and maybe a digestivo (also called amaro), a bitter liqueur to help you digest your meal (supposedly). It goes without saying that you are not obligated to order each course. As for eating out, Italians have a classification of- tavola calda (buffet style, the place keeps the food hot), taverna (tavern), osteria (local restaurant that serves very good wine) retaurant (where you can expect all the courses and it's usually a little more expensive) and pizzeria (pizza place). Wine is the accompainment par excellence to the Italian food. Wine production has taken place in the region of Umbria since Etruscan times and is still a very important industry today.