Food and Wine from Italy

Many of those planning a trip to Italy love good food and wine. The Italians are known for their passion for food and good ingredients. The slow food movement was formed in Italy in the 80’s as a counterculture to American fast food. In Italy, there is a tradition of making food “from scratch”. Here there are no quick fixes to create great tastes. They cultivate genuine and traditional food, and emphasize “pure” flavors. The dishes are served in a stylish, yet rustic and simple way. A renowned Italian chef has stated: “In Italy we do not need to decorate the food to make it interesting, or serve it fancy as you do at gourmet restaurants in Norway. Our ingredients are good enough in themselves”. After a holiday in Italy, it is easy to agree with him. A piece of bread with Italian olive oil, tomatoes and ham is a taste experience in itself.

The Italians are interested in food, and talk a lot about the topic. If you know a little Italian, and overhear a conversation between Italians, there are great opportunities for you to learn a little about cooking. Not least, they are concerned with digestion. They can tell friends what they ate from the start of the day until they went to bed. It is simply fascinating to listen to these conversations. Italians often eat a light breakfast. It is often eaten standing in a bar, and consists of an espresso and a brioche / biscuit. At the hotel, breakfast can consist of cakes, stuffed croissants and biscuits. Many have understood that tourists also want cheese, cold cuts and eggs for breakfast. Do not despair if you think the sweet breakfast is a bad start to the day. Lunch in Italy on a weekday can be a panini, pasta or a salad. On Sundays, they like to have lunch with families and friends, and eat a larger meal that can last for several hours. Dinner is the most important meal for an Italian. They come home from work quite late, so dinner is eaten by most people after 20:00.

At a restaurant

Most restaurants in Italy open at 20:00 for dinner. A full Italian dinner consists of: antipasto (appetizer), primi, (usually carbohydrates such as pasta, risotto, gnocchi) secondo (main course as meat / fish) and contorni (for the main course: vegetables, salad, and potatoes). It all ends with dolce (dessert). It’s good to know that if you only order secondo / main course, this usually comes as only the meat or fish without any starches or veggies. Italians love to share the dishes, and taste each other’s food. Do not be afraid to order e.g. an antipasto or dolce, and ask for two plates. In Italy it is not common to give tips. The tip is usually included into the bill and is called coperta. It can be insulting to the waiter if you leave tips.

Want to buy delicacies to take home?

It is tempting to buy wine, cured meats, cheeses and baked goods to take back home. If you buy cheese, salami and ham, you can in many places ask for a vacuumed package. If you do not know Italian, you can only say vacuum. They will understand what you mean. Pecorino (Tuscan cheese), Talegio and Parmesan are popular cheeses to take home. Ham and sausages are also recommended. Many people swear by para ham, but there are many hams that taste just as good, and at a lower price. Ask for a taster. Cured ham = prosciutto crudo. Cooked ham = prosciutto cotto. Buy with a bottle of local extra vergine olive oil. Italy has beautiful olive oils, and the price is low compared to what you pay for good Italian quality oil back home. Balsamic vinegar in different styles are also a good buy. Wine can of course be bought reasonably at the supermarket, but it is extra nice to bring home a bottle from a winery you have visited. Supermarkets have a poor selection of local wines, while these are easiest to find in local shops.

La Vecchia Sassa, leilighet i Italia : Primatoscana
La Vecchia Sassa, Aperitivo in Iano