Italy is considered one of the richest countries in the world in terms of culture and history. Italian culture is greatly rooted in music, art, architecture, and most importantly, food. Italian cuisine is indeed no exception, as it has become famous around the world. When talking about Italian food, most people just can’t help but think about the vibrant and freshness of the Italian tomatoes, the incredible aroma of Italian fresh herbs, the succulent mozzarella, and the softness of the freshly made pasta. There is no doubt that once you step into any Italian kitchen, you will definitely fall head over heels in love with Italian food. Therefore, it would be a shame to not know the most important traditions in Italian cuisine, wouldn’t it? Let’s make sure that your culinary knowledge is on point with our complete guide down below.
Mealtime in Italian culture is very crucial and precise. However, most people from other counties may find it pretty late compared to the usual mealtime. In Italy, Lunch is commonly served at 1 pm and dinner is served at 8 pm. Mealtime can be a bit earlier in the northern part of Italy when compared to the south. However, don’t expect to get dinner at 4 or 5 pm since most restaurant kitchens are not usually opened until dinner time.
Never on the same plate
The way the Italian serve their food is never on the same plate. Different dishes are always served on different plates. If there are 10 menus on the table, there will be 10 plates for them. There is no mixed serving style here.
Cheese and fruits
The Italians always round up their meal with fresh fruits, cheese, and sometimes coffee. The type of cheese will vary depending on the region. The fruits that they served are often fresh and seasonal.
Unlike in other cultures, Salad in Italian traditions is considered a side dish rather than an appetizer. It is uncommon in Italy to serve salad as a starter. Italian salad is also unique and simple. It is usually made of a mix of seasonal greens dressed in typical Italian salad dressing which is vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper.
In Italian culture, coffee is often served at the end of the meal even after the dessert. An after-meal coffee is commonly served strong and without any milk. Typically, you would get a small shot of espresso that you need to drink quickly while it is still hot. However, a strong shot of espresso after a big meal might not be for everyone. If you would like your coffee a little milder, you can also ask for “a Café macchiato” which is a shot of espresso with a drop of milk. The Café macchiato is considered an acceptable alternative to a cappuccino.
Sometimes, Italians will also serve the “digestivo drink” after the end of the meal. The digestivo is an alcoholic drink to serve after the meal to aid digestion. A sheer variety of digestive beverages are available in Italy, such as grappa, liqueurs, alcohols infused with herbs, or other aromas, such as Amari.
Unlike the Americans, drinking milk with lunch or dinner in Italian culture is a big “no-no”. The Italians believe that the milk will ruin the flavor profile of the dish you’re eating. So unless you want to freak out the waiter, do not order milk with your meal in Italy.
In Italian culture, generally acceptable drinks to go with your meals are red or white wine. Although, it also depends on what kind of dish you order. Sometimes, you might want to get a beer, or if you don’t feel like drinking any alcohol, you can opt for mineral water or a soda which are all common choices.
What is the Soffritto? Well, a Soffritto is the Italian term for carrots, onions, and celery, diced evenly small and cooked in a little butter or oil until soft and caramelized. The name Saffritto is literally translated to “Green soup” which does make sense since the dish is considered the flavor base for any soups recipe.
No Cheese on Seafood
The Italians strongly believe that cheese and seafood are in 2 separate worlds and should never be combined. Sprinkling cheese on top of a seafood dish is very uncommon and most restaurants in Italy would never encourage it. They believe that the strong flavor and smell of the cheese will ruin the aroma of the seafood.
Traditionally, the Italians normally eat light and often sugary breakfast rather than large and savory ones. Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day in some other countries but definitely not in Italy. It is as if the Italians are saving their appetite for their delightful lunches and long dinners instead.
The Italians usually go to a bar for their breakfast which equivalent to a cafe or coffee shop. Breakfast is often served from 7:00 to 10:30 am. One of the most typical breakfasts at the Italian coffee bar is a cup of cappuccino, which is a cup of warm foamy milk lay over a shot of espresso. Finally, it is often served with a cornetto, a pastry-like croissant filled with various types of sweet fillings such as honey, cream, jam, or chocolate. Are you hungry yet?