Ten facts you have to know about Italian food habits

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You are curious about our “Bel Paese”, aren’t you? Do you want to know more about the country everyone would like to go on holiday at least once? Last year, Sasha, one of my closest friends, spent one week here-she wanted to go sightseeing around Italy. Well, one week was not enough we could go to few places. Every city, every region has got its own typical features, you need plenty of time to go through our peninsula. I still have to go to a lot of places myself, and my friends is going to fly back-every single village is worth a visit-take photos, lose yourself in any local typical characteristic: from the sea to the mountain, from the hills to the romantic and rustic countryside. What should you opt for? Everything, of course!

Take plenty of time and plan a long holiday, you won’t regret it!

  1. What is the most genuine Italian food?

Every Region has got its own typical dishes- a lot of them are not described in any guidebooks, but they are really delicious, unforgettable. Here there are just a few to make you droll:

    • Tagliatelle with ragù sauce and lasagne
    • Cotoletta alla milanese-Breadcrumb coated chop
    • Neapolitan pizza
    • Pasta Carbonara
    • Spaghetti all’amatriciana
    • Arancini and Sicilian Cannoli
    • Focaccia Ligure-Ligurian flatbread
    • Tiramisù
    • Bistecca fiorentina-Florentine steak
    • Icecream and granita
    • Orecchiette with broccoli rabe
    • Polenta and Spezzatino-Cornmeal mush with beef stew

They are tempting, aren’t they? Don’t worry. In my blog you will find all the recipes I am used to cooking in my own kitchen. A few ingredients, simple methods, you will manage to make yourself.

Of course, these dishes are not ordinary days’ dishes, but we have them on special occasion , on holidays. We will get into Italian women’s kitchen to spy on their secrets of healthy and light food.

  1. Why is Italy so healthy?

It is a quite tricky question. I could quote plenty of scientific magazines which has clearly demonstrated that Mediterranean is healthy and can prevent cardo vascular diseases, metabolic syndrome, and cognitive impairment. Here I would like to tell you my own opinion. We live well in Italy, but do not think it is the Garden of Eden, because it is not at all! Italy is rich in history, ancient traditions, landscapes-a strong sense of family results in a sincere and comfortable lifestyle. Loving, passionate, sometimes noisy, that’s what we are.

Do you want to have a relaxing walk around the city centre? Every town has got one where you can find a lot of shop?s. Do you feel like buying some fresh deliciously scented bread? There are a lot of bakeries. Do you want to have a talk with a friend of yours? Well, that’s the right place for a hot short espresso. Are you planning a weekend away? Seaside or mountain? Well, set off and in a couple of hours, you will get to your destination.

Yes, you can eat well, but you can also see and experience plenty of beautiful things.

  1. What do the Italians eat a lot of?

The Italian eat almost everything because each region, village, family as got their traditions. Normally, they can’t do without bread, a dish of freshly cooked pasta sprinkled with Grated  Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano or Pecorino cheese, white meat or fish (also delicious cold cuts) and plenty of fresh vegetables, often from the the family garden. Red tomatoes, basil, aromatic herbs, and extra virgin olive oil are fundamental elements of our cooking- they are the ingredients of our everyday’s dishes.

  1. What is the genuine Italian dish?

I think a thousand, but a wooden baked margherita pizza and a toothsome dish of tagliatelle with ragù sauce are the most representative Italian dishes abroad. We usually feel uncomfortable when we are asked about the typical Italian food: definitely the best one cooked by our mums”!

  1. How do the Italians really eat?

We usually have three meals a day, and 1 or 2 small snacks.

We usually start our day with a small or richer breakfast, according to the personal habits: black espresso coffee, toasts with jam, milk, fruit, and some hot drink. We may have a break (some fruit or crackers) in the middle of the morning and afternoon, and we sit at the table for two main meals: lunch at about 12.30 pm and dinner from 7.30 pm to 9 pm. Lunch is usually composed of  pasta and/or pulses, and a small serving of meat or fish (which can be replaced by the ripe cheese you grate on pasta more abundantly) and plenty of vegetables. For dinner, we opt for a dish of red or white meat, eggs, cold-cuts or fresh cheese paired with some bread and the unavoidable vegetables, usually cooked. In the winter, when it is cold, some vegetable soup is often very welcomed.

  1. How do the Italians serve meals?

It depends! It depends on who has prepared the meal. Mums and wives usually take the pot to the table and serve all the table-mates with a ladle or a serving spoon and then they take the pot away from the table. I always do like this with my husband, so I can control his servings. I hardly ever leave the pot on the table because it makes the table untidy and we risk of eating much more than we should.

In my family we are used to eating one course at a time: for lunch, pasta first, then meat with its vegetables. A well laid table wants also a reasonable serving of bread, and a pitcher of fresh water.   

Every course has its own plate (blesses dish-washer machine), I hate eating in the same plate: all the tastes get mixed and more fat is eaten because we tent to clean the plate with bread!

Italian men help, sometimes. Women are usually in charge of the kitchen. My husband is responsible for cutting bread, clearing the table after the meal, and loading the dish-washer with  dirty plates and pots (he says I can’t do it properly!).

On special occasions, the landlady herself honors the guests with the food she has prepared.

  1. Is pasta an appetizer in Italy?

Not at all. It is a dish which is served at the beginning of the meal, that’s why it is called “first course”. It is neither an appetizer, nor a side. Pasta comes from grain and it should be eaten hot on its own. It is never combined with any other dishes of the meal- it is not considered a “main course”.

  1. How do the Italians eat spaghetti?

It looks easy, but it isn’t. It is really toothsome, but you can’t suck it or make noise when you eat it. It is funny, children may be allowed, but the adult, no!!

A few mistakes (which have become very famous thanks to some films) you should avoid when you are facing a good plate of spaghetti (for instance with garlic chili pepper and oil):

    • Do not use your hands, they get dirty and you may risk of licking them,… not good-manners at all…;
    • Do not lean on plate (not to get dirty), but take the fork to your mouth;
    • Do not roll spaghetti with the aid of a spoon (actually, I sometimes do it in the secret of my kitchen);
    • Do not cut spaghetti (you can hear it scream in pain…ah, ah, ah).

Follow these hints:

Twirl clockwise a small bit of spaghetti (2-4 strands), make a net and take it to your mouth. The fork must not be vertical to the late, but slightly leaning: that’s the reason why you should eat spaghetti in a soup plate, it helps to make perfect nets.

  1. Is it rude to eat pizza with your hands in Italy?

Italian Galateo reports plenty of ways to eat pizza: round pizza should be cut with fork and knife. Only rectangular slices of take away can be eaten with hands. To be honest, in Italy everyone does what they like! Somebody folds it, someone else use their hands. I would like to share a few hints to enjoy pizza better, and the mistakes to avoid. Here they are.

-Do not make any weird cuts: pizza has to be cut into triangular slices in order to be easily eaten with fork and knife, or with your hands;

-Do not eat cold pizza: only very hot pizza gives off all its fragrant delicious taste;

  • Eat pizza from the centre to the crust; bite the tip of the triangle and then …you won’t be able to stop…until the crust! 
  • You can eat pizza with your hands if it has already been cut into slices: it a quite “elastic” dish so a cutting it with fork and knife can be useful, essential not to get your hands dirty;
  • Eat the whole pizza, the crust as well: if the pizza dough is well done, this is the best part of the pizza even if is not seasoned.
  • You can it pizza by folding it: take a slice, close the two parts of the crust together, use a fork to push the top of the slice inwards not to drop any topping.
  1. What do the Italians use to season their dishes?

This is the main point: the Italian season their dishes with extra virgin olive oil, salt, vinegar and sometimes, lemon. We don’t usually use spices, sauces, cream, or other seasons. Nowadays, adding seeds and shell fruit to the salads is getting more and moro popular: they provide more taste and healthy nutrients,

This kind of seasoning enhance the natural taste of the ingredients without adding more calories. You should control and measure the quantity of oil with a spoon.

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