Do you want to know how we eat in Italy? Discover it with us by reading this article.
When this question is asked “How do people eat in Italy?” Everyone usually says “in Italy they eat pasta and drink wine”.
This is true: in the Italian tradition there’s always wine and bread on the table, doesn’t matter what the actual meal is at the moment…maybe except pizza, which is traditionally accompanied by a beer or a coca cola.
Bread and vine are as fundamental to an Italian dinner table as a tablecloth and silverware are to setting a table.
With time, work rhythms changed and sedentary lifestyles continue to become more common, the traditions were altered to fit our modern lifestyles. We no longer have three course meals during a normal week, we usually eat a single dish which could be a Primo, a Secondo or a Contorno, and then Fruit and coffee.
A complete meal, which is now only done at Christmas or Easter, includes the following dishes, strictly served one after the other:
1. The appetizer (“The Antipasto”): is a small dish with salami, toasted bread with meat sauce or bruschetta and vegetables in oil; if it is seafood based, it can be a seafood salad or mussels.
2. First course (“Il Primo”): is usually pasta or rice (the famous Risotto) with meat, vegetable or fish sauce.
3. Second course (“Il Secondo”), accompanied by a side dish (il contorno): Il Secondo is meat or fish cooked in various ways: roasted, fried, baked, grilled, maybe with tomato sauce and with a side dish, usually vegetables cooked in various ways, raw, boiled or roasted. Il Secondo could also
be eggs or an omelette. Sometimes we cook everything together: for example, my mother made stewed chicken with potatoes, you can find the recipe below.
4. Side Dish (“Il contorno”) consists of potatoes, beans or vegetables.
6. A dessert
7. An espresso
8. A digestive liqueur, lovingly called the “Ammazzacaffè”
This meal structure is typical of holidays and today there are few people who can eat all these dishes in one meal.
Many foreigners find this way of eating exaggerated.
Although modern life has pushed us Italians to eat more lightly, when we have guests we continue to feel the duty to offer a complete meal.
For those who’d like to attempt making a real Italian homemade meal, you should try this recipe from my mother and her mother and her mother’s mother:
Stewed chicken with potatoes
A whole chicken, cut, cleaned and without skin
rosemary, if you’d like
How to prepare stewed chicken with potatoes – Italian recipe:
Cut the onion into small pieces and fry them in olive oil. If you like rosemary, add a branch into the stir fry without breaking it and remove it later.
The large pieces of chicken are added to the stir fry (according to the anatomy of the chicken) and then the large chunks of potatoes are also added, they must be large otherwise they will disintegrate.
You fry the chicken and potatoes so they make a crust, otherwise everything becomes boiled you want to avoid that.
Carefully turn the pieces so that the crust forms on all sides. When the crust has formed, add the tomato sauce and salt and cook until the potatoes are soft. It should not overcook otherwise the potatoes becomemashed potatoes.
And now you can lick your moustache!
*Vocabulary Il Primo: first course, after the Antipasto, which consists of pasta or rice. Il Secondo: second course, which consists of meat or fish with vegetables or potatoes. Il contorno: vegetables and potatoes.
Oh and btw, Rice for Italians is always a first course but can also be cooked to make desserts.
Now that you have read this article you know better the real Italian food and when you hear someone say: “in Italy they eat pasta and drink wine” you can answer: “of course, but not only!”