Having lived abroad for a few years, I’ve got many chances to meet and confront with different cultures, but at the same time to understand my own better. I learnt soon that talking about food all the time is a peculiarity of Italians, and not – as I used to believe – of all human beings!!! Italians love eating good food, love talking about food, and above all love to gather together with the sole intent of having a lot of food. Our eating sessions can literally last hours, and consist traditionally of three or four courses; nowadays, though, many Italian families prefer to have one or two courses meals, reserving the big feast only to special occasions. Have you ever been invited to an Italian wedding? Or, better yet, to a South-Italian one?
I’m from Calabria, and this is how a wedding reception is done here:
First of all comes the aperitivo (apéritif), a mix of hot and cold appetisers mostly served buffet-style, usually featuring so many flavourful alternatives that you’ll need a lot of self-control if you want to avoid stuffing up so early in the meal, you know this is only the first step. After that, everybody sits around the table to get it on with the real stuff. It’s time for the starter, antipasto, often composed by a variety of cheese, cured meats and vegetables. Now it’s the turn of the primo piatto (literally “first dish”), which consists of either a pasta or a rice dish; most of the times, you will be served two – if not three! – different kinds of primo. After the first comes naturally the second, secondo, a meat or fish recipe, with a side of salad, potatoes or other vegetables. Yes, sometimes we get two secondo too. We are getting closer to the end of the lunch/dinner, as we mention the sixth, optional course: fruit, sometimes accompanied by cheese.
Last but not least, the dessert. Being a sweet-tooth, that’s my favourite moment of the celebration, and I always try not to eat too much before because I know that, besides the wedding cake, there will be many different cakes and succulent sweets for me to taste! The party is almost ended, let’s have a coffee and glass of digestive liqueur (what we call ammazzacaffè, literally “coffee killer”). I bet you’re hungry now! 🙂
One of the reasons why our little peninsula is known all over the World, is out of doubt our food. Italian cuisine is not only renowned for its tastiness, due mainly to the care taken in selecting the best ingredients, but also because it has beneficial effects on health: following a Mediterranean diet helps to live a better (and longer) life.
As I said, I lived for a while in a foreign Country, where I met a huge amount of people coming from different places in the World. In many occasions the conversation would be about (surprise!) food, and many people – after they were told I was Italian and loved to cook – tried to get an invite to dinner!!! So, of course, I cooked many times for my new friends, and noticed that no matter what I was proposing them – could have been an elaborate three courses dinner, unpretending party food or a dessert – they would always be genuinely impressed. That was actually surprising for me; yeah, well, maybe there were times when I expected a few compliments, but only because I had spent hours preparing what was to be the perfect meal, but I didn’t expect people to get excited about quick and basic recipes. Many asked how to get such results, and I’ve always answered that anyone can easily learn to cook Italian food, as long as he’s willing to pay attention to the details: often times, little things make a huge difference!
In the following posts I will be giving you many cooking tips, showing the mistakes that need to be avoided, and I will share my favourite recipes. Oh, and I will definitely open your eyes on what it is a real Italian dish and what it is not… but that’s another story!