Tutti a tavola!
For the past few weeks here in Italy I have been WWOOFing on agritourisms. These are establishments out in the country that host tourists for a night or two and offer them breakfast, lunch and dinner made mainly using ingredients grown on the property. Agritourisms here in Italy usually have a garden, fruit and nut orchards and care for animals as well. The food they serve is delicious and abundant. Then again that may just be Italian food in general!
My first few days at my first agritourism I couldn’t believe the amount of food that was brought out to the table. Then I learned that Italian meals are made up of many different courses, served one after another over the course of at least an hour. Here is the basic outline for an Italian meal:
Usually a drink and a light snack while the meal is being prepared.
Like prosecco or Cinzano (both made from grapes) served alone or with olives.
melón con jamón, mi antipasto preferido
This is the appetizer, it is usually a cold dish and salty but can also be sweet and salty. Some common antipasti are prosciutto with melon, bruschetta, various salumi (cured meats like salami, prosciutto or lardo), figs, cheese, tomato with mozzarella.
Almost every meal is served with red wine, unless there is fish in the menu, in which case white. Sometimes beer. Italians also love fizzy water; some drink carbonated water at every meal or mix some wine into it to make a refreshing fizzy wine.
La pasta con prosciutto
Almost always pasta. Italians say that eating pasta at every meal is totally normal. Watch out; don’t eat too much, however good it may be,
even if it’s lasagna! The first time I was served pasta in Italy I didn’t realize that this was just the first course of many and filled up on the pasta!
Pimo piatto can also be a rice dish or soup.
Whenever you set a table for Italians you cannot forget bread. Plain, French bread (not baguettes) is served at every meal. But the funny thing is, at both agritourisms I worked at bread was only made once a week. Tons and tons of loaves were made and then stored in a big bag. We would take one out at every meal and slice it into pieces. But this means that by the end of the week we had some pretty stale bread. They didn’t seem to mind and ate it anyways! Sometimes focaccia is made and served fresh out of the oven. Delicious!!
Meat or fish. I’ve been served lots of beef, lamb and pork. Or for vegetarians (they exist here!), an elaborate vegetable dish.
Vegetables served with the secondo piatto. This could raw or cooked vegetables. The strange thing I’ve seen many Italians do is just put a bowl of lettuce next to a plate of whole tomatoes, cucumbers and onions on the table. I personally don’t like chopping vegetables at the table for my salad, but this way everyone has salad the way they like it. Salad is always dressed with olive oil, vinegar and salt.
It never ends does it! There is still dessert. I’ve been served chocolate tart, blackberry custard and tiramisu.
Fresh fruit, sometimes served with cheese. I’ve been served lots of melon lately since it’s in season.
If there is no frutta, coffee comes out with the dessert or just after. Coffee in Italy is always espresso, meaning super dark roasted beans, ground fine, prepared in the metal Italian coffee maker called Moka (after the most well-known brand), and served in small espresso cups. I thought Italians would all drink their coffee black, but many add a spoonful or two of sugar, never milk thought. It’s like a hot, bittersweet energy kick. I’m not a huge fan.
Fernet se toma solo como un degestivo, nunca con coca cola como en Argentina
Believe it or not, it’s still not over! However, this drink is supposed to ease digestion. This is a shot of distilled liquor like grappa, or a flavored liqueur like limoncello. Some Italians serve coffee in a shot glass and then pour grappa into the empty, used shot glass, giving it a coffee flavor. Interesting… I must say, of all the distilled, hard liquor I’ve tried on this trip, grappa (made from grapes) is the most delicious.
And there you have it! The reason most people gain weight when they come to Italy. The food is good and they serve a lot of it!