giovedì 17 gennaio 2008

Italian Food Traditions

Food is an incredibly important part of Italian culture. Italians take great pride in their traditions, and their cuisine is certainly no exception. Mealtime in Italy is an integral part of the daily routine, an opportunity for connection with family, and socialization with good friends. It is also a healthful part of life, as traditional dishes are prepared using the freshest ingredients and cooked to maintain the rich natural flavors and nutrients.

Traditionally, the largest and most important meal of the day is the midday meal. This meal commonly lasts two or more hours, giving the family a chance to catch up on the happenings of the day and allowing them the time it takes to truly enjoy the flavors of the classic Italian cuisine. Modern culture has, of course, affected this tradition somewhat, but many Italians still hold to this tradition every chance they get, especially on weekends and holidays.

The midday meal is typically a three to five course meal (no wonder it takes two hours to enjoy!). The meal begins with the antipasto, which literally means “before the meal”, followed by the primo, which is a small serving of pasta. The secondo is the main course, which consists of small portions of meat, poultry or fish. The contorno, a selection of vegetables, accompanies the main dish. The meal finishes with the dolce, or dessert.

Meal times tend to be later in the day in Italy, so the large midday meal could occur sometime around 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Dinner is often 8:00 p.m. or later, which is why this meal is often lighter. Different regions in Italy have different traditions and specialties that the people local to the area are often very proud of. This is one of the things that make a tour of Italy so absolutely fascinating – having the opportunity to experience such rich local tradition and fabulous cultural cuisine.

Welcome to From the Italian Kitchen. Please check back with us frequently for more information and recipes, and keep a lookout for the release of the new book, The Italian Kitchen, to help you bring a taste of Italy into the comfort of your own home!

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