I have finally made it to Europe! This is the beginning of my grand adventure across the pond. I almost thought I wouldn’t make it over here after what happened down in Puerto Rico, but I managed to make it here all in one piece.
Arriving in Catania airport I ran and embraced “la mia dolce meta”,Giulio, for a good 2 minutes before stepping foot onto Sicilian soil. From Catania we traveled Northeast to Messina, Giulio’s hometown. Back in Korea I would always beg him to show me his hometown, but he always laughed it off. Imagine my surprise when it actually happened, and so soon, too!
It’s been 4 years since I’ve been back to Europe and I’ve forgotten how wonderful it is. I didn’t make it this far south on my last trip, but I did spend two out of the four weeks I had here in Italy. I love Italy. I truly believe it’s my favorite country in the entire universe, which could also explain why I chose a handsome Italian man to be my partner. A big reason why I love Italy, and there are many but this is the biggest, is the food!
“Eating in Italy is like running a marathon. You need to pace yourself in order to make it to the finish line.” -Me
For the first few days I kept filling my face with all the food in front of me and tried to finish all the food on my plate. I made this mistake for the first 3 days trying to eat as much tasty food as I could and overeating because there were always more courses coming out to the table. It’s like their universe is centered around eating, and they do it constantly throughout the day. Let me break it down for you.
You wake up and have colazione, or, breakfast. This usually consists of biscotti (cookies), Cornettos (croissants), and coffee with milk. You usually dip these into the coffee, known in Italy as inzuppata, until it becomes soaked. Yum. Breakfast is never salty, in fact it’s disgusting to them if you mention eggs or bacon for breakfast. Here in Messina granita is king. It’s a type of slushie that comes in many flavors, but the most popular are: coffee, strawberry, and pistaccio. It tastes even better with panna, whipped cream, but then again everything does. Oh! I should also mention that granitas are always accompanied with a brioche bun to soak up the goodness.
Then at around 1 or 2 pm you have Pranzo, lunch, which can consist of many courses, but is usually lighter than dinner. If you have been invited to lunch at someone’s house, or restaurant, the meals are larger. If you’re having lunch on your own and don’t have much time, then “fast-food” such as focaccia, arinchini, and paninis are the most convenient. Regardless of how much you eat, it is always followed by a cafe, which is espresso. If order a cappuccino anytime after breakfast, you will have broken some kind of unspoken rule. After you’re stuffed it’s time to riposare and take a nap. Eating and sleeping, my two of my favorite things to do.
Then at around 7, after your rest, you have an aperitivo with your friends. While sometimes they have finger-foods, you mainly go for a drink. The most traditional beverage to order for aperitivo is called a spritz. It is made with Aperol, a dash of prosecco, and tonic water.
Finally we made it to cena, or, dinner! You always have bread on the table, this is usually to be eaten after you finish your pasta/salad in order to do scarpetta. Scarpetta is something you’d never see in America and it literally means “to scrape the remaining sauce off the plate with your bread and eat it”. Though I’ve been told that in fancier restaurants it’s impolite to do. So many rules.
The meal is always served with wine. Usually white if eating fish and red if it’s beef. Anyway, you start with an antipasta, appetizer, of assorted veggies, cheeses, and cold cuts. You then have the primo which is always a type of pasta. After the pasta, and scarpetta, comes the secondi, which is meat/fish and veggies. Note: If you try to switch plates and go back to the primo, if it’s still on the table anyway, you’ll have broken another sort of rule.
Remember how I said it’s a marathon? If you try to finish everything any of your plates, you’ll never make it to dessert. It’s better to eat a little of each course, and remember, never go back always forward. Don’t worry! There’s always more food and you will get full.
After all those plates comes the fruit. You could choose to eat the fruit and dessert, or just one. Sometimes fruit is the only dessert, but you must always have at least one fruit a day.
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the dolce! There is always room left even after all that food because apparently Italians agree with my motto that “Dessert goes in the heart, not the stomach”.
After dinner everyone gets an espresso, yes even though it’s about 10-11pm when we finish eating, and then the war begins on who will pay the bill. In the US we divide the bill perfectly down to the cent so each person pays for their share, and only theirs. Here in Italy women aren’t allowed to pay and watch silently while the men fight over who will pay. The victor then pays the whole bill. Strange right?
*Edit: I found these in the daily newspaper today about summer recipes, thought I’d throw it in here*