As evrybody knows the italian cuisine is not just made by italian ingredients: pasta, mozzarella, salami, vegetables, wine… but the recepies how to mix the ingredients to made the italian dishes. What everybody doesn’t know is that to eat in italian style involves following certain rules. Probably no italians explained you this thing becase these rules are so deep rooted in our culture that we italians are convinced that these rules are absolute rules of human beings and everybody follows. But let’s see the first rule to better understand what is it about. Rule n.1 Never drink an hot beverage during the principal meal, that is lunch or dinner. So absolutly no cappuccino or milk, we italians normaly drink only fresh beverages as coke, orange (with soda, orange juice) water, beer, wine, etc. It is allowed to drink the same things at room temperature, but not hot. You can drink hot coffee but only at the end of your meal. I know that you are saying samething like: though I have seen in Milan an italian to drink a hot milk during lunch. Or, in mountain I drank a hot wine and they told me that it’s typical. Ok it could be. Every rule has its exception. It’s possible that an italian likes to drink a cappuccino at lunch, but it’s considered strange. Every single rule I’m going to explain you is often transgred by the regional cooking, but in every way they are perceived as rules. When you are in Italy and you transgress one of these, you will be arrested and undergo a process or you must pay a fine. Don’t worry I’m just joking, nothing of this will happen but every finger will point towards you (the usual barbarians, germans, because the tourists in Italy are always Germans) Rule n. 2 In a italian meal there is a precise order to eat This is the order:
- antipasto – appetizer
- primo - first (pasta)
- secondo – second (meat or fish) with side dish – con contorno (vegetables)
- frutta – fruits
- dolce - dessert
- caffè e amaro – coffè and bitter
Sincerely nowadays almost nobody eats all these things two times a day. I for example normally eat just primo at lunch and secondo at dinner. Also when you are in a restaurant you can cut out one or more dish, but you can’t change the order, for example you can’t ask first the dessert, or eat fruits before pasta. Attention: the exception is always lurking: the antipasto can include almost everything except pasta and dolce. For example one of the most classic antipasto is prosciutto e melone - ham and melon, and the melon is certainly a fruit. But if it is joint with prosciutto is not considered a frutta but an antipasto. There is another thing you must know: in a very formal meal or at an italian house you can not eat a dish, so can say: “for me no pasta today, thank you”, but to eat the secondo you must wait that the other people have eat the other thing in the right order. In normal meal with your friends you can eat secondo also if your friends are eating primo. Rule n.3 In Italy we eat everybody at the same time, and there is a right time to eat that is different in each region. In the north they eat before, in the south we eat later. In Puglia if you go to dinner at 7,00 pm you will be alone in the restaurant, even if you found a restaurant open at 7 pm, but I doubt it. Here the correct times are Lunch from 12,30 to 2,30 pm Dinner 9,30 pm 11 but it will not hard to found a open restaurant also later. Rule n.4 There are some foods that you can eat at breakfast, food for lunch, and food for dinner. I must be sincere: we are losing this idea, but there sill base indicators. First of all at breakfast you can eat only sweet things. Forbidden eggs, forbidden bacon, forbidden tomatoes, forbidden cucumbers, legumes, and every kind of meat. You can only drink milk, the, cappuccino or coffee, you can eat yogurt, biscuits, jams, brioches, or other sweet things. I'm considered strange because I eat fruits for breakfast. As it’s already clear (I hope) these same things are forbidden at lunch or dinner. The differens between lunch and dinner are more labile and are often define by family rules (so there are national rules, regional rules, city rules, and family rules). For example my mother never made risotto for dinner. Pizza is only for dinner, and I not willing to discuss. Trivial rules
- You eat sitting at the table
- On the French fries you can put mayonnaise (terribile, I agree with you)
- Pasta is not a side dish, and will never, never, meet ketchup!
- Coffee is only espresso, if you want another kind of coffee you must specify it: for example an american coffee. it will not considerate uneducated to explain to the barman how to make your coffee
- You drink your coffee or cappuccino and stop. You can't go around with your cup. And if really want do this terrible thing must ask un caffe da porta via – to take away
- the spaghetti are rolled up around the fork, not cut with a knife
Finely remember that in principle all Italians are convinced that the italian cucine is the best in the world, and I agree with it, but unlike many italians I know that also abroad there is very good food. Instead the most part of italians is very suspicious with the international cucine. In any case I advice you to nip in the bud discussion aimed at a comparison. Let’s tell them that italian cucine is the maximum and that at home fed only canned food, and you will made them happy.