It’s common knowledge that Italians are well versed in the gioie della tavola, what we would call “the joys of the table.” The first thing we think of when we think of Italy is the sense of warmth and family that flourishes around every Italian table. The dinner table is among the most enduring and meaningful symbols in Italian art and is celebrated in some of their greatest works. At the table hearts open, and life’s greatest events unfold. Familial bonds are nurtured; deep ties of friendship and love are nourished. Italians understand the magical synergy that springs forth when the joys of intimacy and conversation commingle with those of food and drink.
In every Italian household, there’s the ever-present aunt or grandma who’s sure you are under-nourished and that you must have your belly filled immediately. You’ll find it impossible to leave the table without having eaten every food item she can produce.
Lunch begins between noon and 1pm according to the region, and can in some instances last the entire day. Lunch is a time to assemble extended family and the only time when all courses are served. Starting with the antipasto and closing with dessert, to be followed with caffe’ and the coffee killer ammazza-caffe’- a small serving of liquor.
A main course, in Italy, most often comes in two presentations, the primo and secondo courses. Primo consists invariably of a pasta, soup, (such as a minestrone) or risotto. Customarily, the pasta is made fresh by hand that very day. Secondo will vary from one region to the next but is most often meat or fish based, with innumerable side dishes.
The socializing begins over coffee and a splash of limoncello (a lemon derived liquor). If you have any commitments for the afternoon, forget them- as the chatting will not end until late in the day. Remember, this is family bonding time- and there’s no blowing off family in Italy.
Tradition & Diversity
A noteworthy pillar of Italy’s food culture is the diversity between the regions. Each dish, even the simplest, has its roots in traditions passed down locally. While traveling the length of the country, you may experience a number of dishes greater than the number of cities you visit. In the north, for example, you may sample polenta (a corn flour dish), but you will be hard-pressed to find it in southern regions.
Indeed, the charm and mystery of this unique part of the world continue to enchant us with its emphasis on the love of family and its prodigious creativity as it is expressed in their world famous homemade cuisine.
Stop in today a little taste of joy!