Facts About Italian Food Part 1

Italian Food Facts

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Italian Food Facts Part 1


1.  Italians take their food very seriously.  The main meal of the day is at lunch time.  The word for 'the lunch ' is il pranzo.

 You begin the meal with antipasti: these are appetisers like olives, cheese and salami, followed by.........

il primo piatto
(the first course) which is pasta or minestrone then.........

il secondo piatto (the main course) which is carne (meat) or pesce (fish) with insalata (salad) or verdure (vegetables).

  Next, there is la frutta (fruit) and perhaps un dolce (a dessert).

Finally there is espresso coffee.

2.  Italians eat many things that are not usually eaten in the UK, for example, snails, horse, donkey, goat, rabbit and hare, wild boar, sea urchin, sea snails, octopus, squid, peacock.......and many more!

3.  You only drink milky coffee, like cappuccino and caffellatte, first thing in the morning for breakfast. 
The word for 'the breakfast' is la prima colazione.
You dunk cakes and biscuits into the milky coffee. 
You can also make a 'soup' by mashing your biscuits into the cup of coffee and eating it with a spoon.   
Italians do not drink milky coffee at any other time of day.

4.  Here are the names of some foods in Italian:-
Trifle is la zuppa inglese - English soup.
Swiss roll is salame farcito - stuffed sausage.
Plain sponge cake is pan di Spagna - Spanish bread.
Fruit salad is macedonia di frutta.
Sea food is frutti di mare - fruits of the sea.

The dessert called Tiramisù actually means 'Pick me up.
The Italian dish called Saltimbocca (slices of veal rolled up with ham and sage) actually means 'Jump into mouth.'

5.  Before eating a meal, Italians say to each other
'Buon appetito!' 

This means 'Good appetite!' and it is wishing everyone a good appetite so that they enjoy their meal.
There is an Italian saying that 'a good appetite develops whilst you are eating' - 'L'appetito vien mangiando.'

6.  The pizza was invented in Naples during the 18th century. 
Originally, it was just a dry, flat bread and was considered food for poor people.
During a tour of her country in 1889, Queen Margherita of Italy tried some of the flat bread.  She liked it so much that she ordered her chef to prepare various types of pizza for her.  He decided to make a pizza containing the three colours of the Italian flag with mozzarella cheese (white), tomato (red) and basil (green).  He then named the pizza in her honour - Pizza Margherita.  It became one of her favourite foods.

pizza Margherita     Queen Margherita

7.  At Christmas, Italians eat a special bread-cake called
il panettone. 
On the 1st. of January, Italians eat lentils for good luck in the new year.
At Easter, they eat a special bread-cake in the shape of a dove.  It is called la colomba

8. Pasta is the most important food in Italy.  It means 'paste' because it is a paste of water, flour and sometimes egg.  It can be either 'dried' or 'fresh.'   There are hundreds of different shapes and types of pasta.   Pasta dishes are normally eaten as a first course (un primo piatto).
Here are a few pasta shapes and the meanings of their names:
farfalle = butterflies
penne = quills / pens
fusilli = spindles
spaghetti = strings
vermicelli = little worms

conchiglie = shells
tortellini = little pies
fettucine = little slices

To see a pasta recipe click HERE

9.  The original name for 'spaghetti' was 'maccheroni.' 
The word 'spaghetti' actually means 'strings.'

Before the existence of pasta factories, people made their own spaghetti and would hang it outside to dry.  Below is a photo of people in Palermo, Sicily, hanging out spaghetti to dry.

Image from Wikimedia Commons.  Photograph: 'Palermo. Fabbrica di maccheroni' by Giorgio Sommer, 1834-1914.

10.  The Agnese family opened the very first pasta factory near Genova in 1824.  A few years later, the Buitoni family opened their pasta factory

11.  The long pasta known as 'tagliatelle' (it looks like flat spaghetti) was created by a chef in honour of Lucrezia Borgia's long blond hair.  Lucrezia lived from 1480 till 1519.  She was also known as Lucrezia d'Este and she was Duchess of the town of Ferrara.

12.  There are different types of premises serving food in Italy.  For example:
Ristorante - serves all foods but not pizza.
Trattoria - serves all foods but not pizza. This is an 'informal' restaurant where you may be expected to share your table with strangers.
Pizzeria - specialises in pizza.
Agriturismo - a restaurant on a farm, serving home-produced food.
Tavola calda - self-service restaurant, literally meaning 'hot table.'
Rosticceria - a 'take-away' serving roast meat, especially chicken.
Paninoteca - a sandwich shop bar.
Spaghetteria - specialises in pasta.

Often, an eating place is a combination of categories, e.g.-
Ristorante-Pizzeria, Bar-Paninoteca, Bar-Pizzeria, etc.....

13.  On the dining table in Italian homes there is always water, wine and bread.  An Italian superstition is not to place bread upside-down on the table as it is considered to bring bad luck!
Here is some vocabulary:  il vino bianco - white wine
il vino rosso - red wine    il vino rosato - rosé wine
il pane - bread
l'acqua - water

14.   Italy produces famous liqueurs, often made from herbs and fruits and with secret recipes from hundreds of years ago! 
Some of the most well-known ones are:
Limoncello - made from lemon zest.  It is often made at home.
Frangelico - made from hazelnuts.  It has a very interesting bottle in the shape of a monk who is dressed with a rope tied around his waist.  According to the legend, it was a monk called Fra Angelico who first prepared this liqueur.

Una bottiglia di Frangelico

Strega - made from herbs.  Its name means 'witch' because it is prepared in the town of Benevento which is famous for its history of witches!  It is yellow in colour because saffron
(lo zafferano) is added.
Amaretto - made from bitter almonds.  Its name actually means 'a little bitter' and it was first prepared in the town of Saronno.  For that reason, the amaretto considered the best is the one produced in the original town and it is called
  Amaretto Disaronno.

Italian Food Traditions

Scary Italian Foods

Italian Food Zone

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