Food to an Italian is what oxygen is to life.
We all have our rules when it comes to eating. Table manners were a big thing with my mum and dad when I was growing up. “That’s too much on your fork son” and “excuse yourself before you leave the table” where regulars to my ears! 🙂 For Italians, it’s not just as simple as this. Every country has its own culture, but there are few that have their own ‘food rules’. Italy is one of these countries, and I love it.
There are lots more, but here are my favourite 10:
- Don’t drink cappuccino after 10am
- Milk is almost a meal in itself to an Italian. So its not unusual for an Italian to drink a cappuccino on the way to work or school, but with no other food.
- Italians only drink tea when they’re sick (at home)
- There’s no such thing as a good ‘cuppa’ in Italy. Expect a strange look from a barista if you order tea in a coffee bar. He/she probably thinks you are infected.
- Don’t dip bread in olive oil
- I love to dip fresh crusty into a bowl of extra virgin olive oil which has been spiked with a healthy dash of balsamic di modena. Italians don’t.
- No pizza for lunch
- “mangiare la pizza prima delle nove mi fa tristezza” – “To eat pizza before 9pm makes me sad”. Kinda says it all. In Italy, pizzas must be eaten at night at a pizzeria. It must be made to order, eaten immediately and must be cooked by an expert using a wood-burning pizza oven.
- Don’t put ice cubes in drinks
- Ice in Italy is to keep fish fresh. Simples. This is supposedly because Italians believe icy cold drinks are bad for your digestion. No hotel in Italy will have an ice machine in the corridor and few will deliver ice to your room.
- With meals, drink water or wine, nothing else
- In homes and good restaurants in Italy, the only drinks served with lunch or dinner is wine (red, white, rosé or Prosecco) and water (still or sparkling). Even children sometimes have a splash of wine in their fizzy water.
- Don’t put butter on your bread
- Butter and bread never meet in Italy, unless its on a slice of toast for breakfast. Bread served in a basket in Italy is to be used solely as the scarpetta or little show to scoop up the last of the sauce on your plate.
- Don’t eat eggs in the morning
- Italians are most likely to have a pastry and a cappuccino for breakfast. Not eggs. These nutritional delights are typically served sliced in half beside a lunchtime salad. This would be a very hard one for me, as I love eggs for breakfast.
- Don’t dip biscotti in coffee. Dip it in Vin Santo
- I love biscotti, coffee and Vin Santo. I would be happy to dip these delicious crunchy almond cookies in either, but the Italians always opt for the Vin Santo (an Italian dessert wine).
- Italians don’t snack
- Small grocery stores in Italy are packed with Pringles, sweets, chewing gum, Coke, M&Ms and Mars Bars. These are mainly for tourists. Italians typically don’t snack (apart from an espresso at 11am in a local bar). Between 4pm and 6pm and 11pm and midnight they may stop at a gelateria for a small (max. two scoops) cone. How amazing!? The name of these snacks is merenda which is derived from the latin “mere” which means “that which you should deserve”
- Italians eat local and in season
- This is the basis for the quality of Italian food in Italy. This is quite difficult to do in Northern Ireland as we often don’t have the climate to grow a lot of what we enjoy to eat.
So, which of these do you reckon would be the most difficult ‘food rules’ to adhere to if you lived in Italy, or if they where introduced to Ireland/UK?