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How to Eat Italian-Style

Cooking is undoubtedly a very important part of Italian culture.

Italian cooking is known in the world mainly for its pasta, pizza and ice cream, however the variety of its foods is much richer.


Thanks to the importance of regional cuisines, with many cities and even small towns which are rightly proud of their traditions and culinary specialties, as well as the many influences of the many people who have lived in the peninsula, the number of Italian recipes can be defined as almost unlimited.

It is a very rich cooking, nutritious and healthy, handed down from centuries through family life, mainly of peasant origin and, as such, close to the land and its products.

 

Italian cuisine is very appreciated in the world for its variety.

It is rich in splendid unique dishes of pasta accompanied by vegetables, legumes, all ingredients that go back to the roots of local traditions, but at the same time also in countless varieties of meat, fish and cheese.

Italians like to eat at home or at their friends’, but when they decide to eat out – usually on weekends or evenings – they have many valid alternatives:

the restaurant, where it is possible to choose among many varieties of dishes, but generally at rather high prices;
the trattoria, which is a simpler restaurant, without a great variety of dishes, with a family atmosphere and low prices;
the osteria, frequented mainly by young people who want to eat, but above all drink and spend little;
finally the pizzeria, where you can order any kind of pizza.

It would be worth your while to take the time to visit the different regions of Italy, to get to know the different culinary traditions, discover their origins, taste the most diverse dishes in the restaurants or taverns of the country.

You would discover a much wider variety of offerings than you may have had the opportunity to appreciate in Italian restaurants abroad.

 

Meals

In Italy there are mainly three meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner. The main meals, especially dinner, are a time for all family members to get together.

Traditionally, the Italian breakfast is not very elaborate; it consists of a hot drink (coffee, milk, tea), accompanied by something sweet (cookies, bread, butter and jam, brioches, fresh or packaged).

Very common is also the habit of having breakfast outside the home, at the bar, where it is generally consumed a cappuccino or an espresso coffee with a croissant, a sweet similar to French croissants, usually filled with cream, or jam or chocolate.

Having a coffee at the bar, usually standing in front of the counter, is a very common habit and not only at breakfast but also at mid-morning or after meals.

Lunchtime is around one o’clock. The traditional lunch is a substantial meal even though many Italians, forced by the working hours, eat it in a hurry out of the house, eating a sandwich.

Whoever eats lunch at home usually eats a first course (often pasta or, in Northern Italy, rice) and a second course of meat, fish or eggs with a side dish of vegetables; finally, fruit and coffee.

In particular occasions (on Sundays, for example), with the coffee of the after-dinner meal, people eat also sweets, such as pastries or a cake, possibly home made, or, in summer, an ice cream.

Dinner is a fundamental moment in the life of Italians.

At the end of the working day all the members of the family gather around the table and have the main meal of the day, telling each other about the most important events. At dinner they generally eat light foods such as soups, salads, cheeses, vegetables and fruit.

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