Our Italian Kitchen Table

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Italian culture: What to eat and when!

A guide to the different meals of the day

 

We all have one thing in common here; we love Italian food! But what we adore the most is how drastically the menu changes over the course of the day and throughout the week. The Italian equivalent to a Sunday roast is not too dissimilar, and breakfasts in some instances are a whole different question! So we decided to breakdown some of the Italian eating habits from weekdays and weekends.

A common Italian breakfast would consist of an espresso and a choice of sweet pastries, from cornetti or fette biscottate, highly popular due to their convenience and speed.

There are a lot of similarities between Sunday lunches in England and Italy. Both are viewed as a time to share as a family. As children will attend school for shortened times six days a week, Sunday is the most convenient time to bring the family together at the dinner table. There are many more courses in an Italian meal, so the portions sizes are a lot smaller than most other cuisines.

The first course, known as primo, commonly consists of small portions of pasta such as tortellini lightly flavoured with a brush of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of salt, pepper and a light garnishing of oregano. The second dish, secondo, is a more hearty course, Tuscan roast pork for example, seasoned with garlic and herbs such as rosemary or Filetto di cernia alla griglia (grilled fillet of grouper). Typically to follow would be Formaggi e frutta, a selection of regional cheeses with fruits to complement.

On a weekday, however, when families are out for work and schooling, lunch is a different story. A quick pit-stop at a nearby pizzeria to grab a slice or some insalatona (salad) is a common option when pushed for time and with a lack of portavivande (packed lunch). Due to the lengthened working hours in Italy and a midday siesta, lunch periods are much longer (the typical working day is split into periods of 8am-1pm and 3pm-7pm).

Evening meals are typically much later at night and a lot smaller. Soup is a common suppertime dish, in the winter Tortelloni Broth is a popular warming dinner. If socially eating with friends or family, a digestif of amaro or grappa is a great way to finish a meal.

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