My previous article on the “Seven “Italian” Foods you wont’ find in Italy” has generated quite a few questions about the meaning of “true Italian food”, what do Italians eat every day, where are the best tables in Italy, etc etc. I’ll address all the questions, starting from this first one:
How do Italians manage to eat so much while they are so thin?
Most first time visitors to Italy are convinced that the whole population eat the same type of multi-course meal that is offered in a restaurant, with pasta, pizza and meat smothered in vast amounts of tomato sauce and cheese.
Breakfast is usually very light – too light to my taste -, most often simply Caffè e latte (hot coffee with milk) with bread or rolls, butter, and jam.
Lunch used to be the most important meal of the day, and still is during week-ends, but not so Monday to Friday. Italians, like almost anybody else in the world, have fast food lunches during the day and “simple” weekday dinners at home.
Some families will have a first course of pasta, rice or soup and a second course of meat, chicken, fish or eggs with a side of salad or steamed greens. Others will have the same as above but split between two meals, e.g. pasta for lunch and meat for dinner, with some fruits to finish and a small cup of espresso. No dessert and no appetizer, small portions, seasonal ingredients, limited amounts of fat and protein, lots of vegetables. That’s the way we like it.
During the week-ends, it’s a different story, with lots of socializing done around the sharing of meals, either at home or in restaurants.
One peculiarity of Italy is that food differs a lot by the region, despite globalization and mass food production. Italians love their home food. Ask any of them about their favourite restaurant. The most frequent answer will be: “Home”. And they are probably right!
I’ll tell you how to experience a true family meal in Italy in a next article. In the meantime, try some authentic Italian recipes: