The Italians have one of the best cuisines in the world. In the 15th century Catherine de Medici of Florence married King Henry II. She brought their Italian cooks with her when she moved to France. It is said they taught the French how to cook, use the fork, and introduced herbs into their food. Maybe the French will never agree that Italian cuisine is better. Anyway I am now in Italy, land of Parma ham and prosciutto on culinary journey of discovery.
Breakfast in Italy is very light. In the morning they have a cappuccino together with cornetti (croissant) , a light panini, or pastries from a pasticceria (pastry shop). And they
hardly sit-down while having breakfast. Italians only take cappuccino in the mornings and never after a meal. Yes I made that mistake of ordering one and I was given the “look” by the locals. Cappuccino is also drank lukewarm. So don’t give it back and ask them to make it hot because that it how it is taken. Caffe latte is cappuccino senza schiuma menaning without the froth. Caffe refers to espresso and doppio espresso means a double shot to jolt up you for the whole day. What I am used to is called cafe Americano (coffee with hot water) or long coffee here.The Italians take their coffee seriously. Honestly I still do not understand why a shot of espresso is taken so quickly. Where I come from (in Manila) a cup of coffee is leisurely taken and we sit in a coffee shop for at least an hour.
Another important note as a tourist in Italy is that when you sit down in a cafe or bar the price of the meal goes up. Apparently there is a charge or a service fee for waiting on a table. No wonder the Italians take their food and drinks standing in bars, pizzarias, gelaterias, panini and pastry shops.
A trattoria is usually family run with home cooking and traditional dishes. Lunch is called pranzo and is the main meal of the day. Dinner which is take late is called cena. The food sequence is different from the French or American service. It goes like this:
Antipasto ( like an appetizer of parma ham, prosciutto, or a bruschetta)
Primo Piatta (pasta or risotto)
Insalata (salad) or contorno ( vegetable dish) and meat
Fruit or dolce
For snacks they have a slice of pizza, merendina (cakes), tramezzino (sandwich), panini (pressed grilled sandwich).
I have been drizzling food with extra virgin olive oil, literally snacking on cheeses like parmiggiana and fresh mozzarella, and insaccatti (cold cuts) like proscuitto….yum!