Eating in Italy – surprising things you might not know!
Do you love Italian food? There a lot more to the country’s cuisine than just pasta and pizza. Here we take a look at some facts about the way Italians eat and it might surprise you!
Breakfast consists of a milky coffee in which you dip biscuits or cake – sounds heavenly! If you’re used to grabbing a latte or cappuccino from Costa in the afternoon, you wouldn’t find this behaviour in Italy. They only drink milky coffee at breakfast!
Unlike in the UK, in Italy the main meal of the day is taken at lunch time. ‘Il pranzo’ begins with small snacks like olives which is then followed by a pasta dish. You’d then be served with meat or fish combined with a salad or vegetables followed by fresh fruit or dessert. After all this, it’s a good job they serve an espresso to wake you up!
Pasta is synonymous with Italy and is usually taken as a first course there. There are literally hundreds of different types, fresh and dried. ‘Spaghetti’ means ‘strings’ in Italian and in the past, families would make their own and hang it outside to dry in great, long strings.
On the table in Italian homes, you will always find bread, water and wine which you’ll find in all good Italian restaurants too, as well as olives. For dining out, you’ll find different types of eateries such as:
- Ristorante – serves everything apart from pizza
- Spaghetteria – for all things spaghetti
- Rosticceria – a takeaway serving meat
- Pizzeria – Mmmmm needs no explanation!
- Agriturismo – an eatery set on a farm where you’ll find delicious fresh produce
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Believe it not, tomatoes are not native to the country as they were introduced from America. Hard to believe when so many of the best Italian dishes feature tomatoes. In fact, even the phrase ‘Italian food’ is not really very accurate. The country has 20 regions and each of them has their specialities and ways of cooking. Some dishes you enjoy in Rome for example, may not be on the menu in Naples!
You won’t find many Italians doing their weekly food shop all in one supermarket either. Most prefer to visit multiple shops, markets, farmers and butchers. Can you imagine how delicious their meals are with all those fresh, local ingredients?
Pork is big in Italy and comes in various forms including salami, prosciutto or porchetta. You’ll also find fresh fish with the most popular being seabass and bream. If chicken is your thing then there’s plenty of that to be found and also many burger restaurants with exciting Italian twists.
There are some things that you may think are Italian but really aren’t. For one, Italians don’t put meatballs on their spaghetti! Tomato sauce was not added to spaghetti dishes until the 18th century and a bottle of Italian dressing probably doesn’t resemble anything you’d find on a salad in Italy.