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Italian Food Culture: How to Eat Like The Italians Do

A prominent element of Italy’s fame is it’s exquisite culinary tradition. Every traveller who comes to this Mediterranean country comes with a food bucket list, keen to explore the food culture and Italy doesn’t disappoint. While there are some food traditions that are standard throughout the country, each region has its own distinct variation to offer. If you’re travelling to Italy soon, then allow us to help you navigate through the country’s food scene and eat like the Italians do!
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Meals through the day

Do you remember the age old adage – eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper? Well, if you do then forget it when you are in Italy.

Colazione or breakfast for Italians is no big deal, quite literally. It’s meant to be kept light, mostly just a coffee and a croissant.
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Pranzo (lunch) and Cena (dinner) on the other hand are more substantial in terms of quantity and intricacy. While lunch tends to be slightly hurried especially for those who are working, dinner time is regarded as an opportunity to catch up with friends and family over elaborate meals. A typical Italian meal structure is 7 courses – aperitivo, antipasti, primo, secodo, contorno e insalata, dolce and digestivo. This is the perfect time to indulge in ethnic food near you. Additionally, an entire course can be added dedicated to just cheese and fruit – formaggi e frutta.

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Street Food

When in Italy, it is a very real chance that you may be tempted to have pizza for every single meal of the day. It’s going to be difficult to resist this temptation but we urge you to do so for there is a whole gastronomical journey for you to undertake on the streets of Italy. Some of the must try dishes while exploring the streets of Italy are, Sgagliozze (fried polenta), Polpette (meatballs), Cannoli, Olive all’Ascolana (fried stuffed olives), Cuoppo Napoletano or Pesce Fritto Al Cono (paper cones with deep fried meat, veggies and seafood) and Panelle (chickpea and polenta fritters).

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Types of Eateries

While traversing through streets of Italy, you will come across various different types of eateries that are broadly categorized as enotecas, osterias, trattorias and ristorantes.

Enotecas are actually just wine bars, a pit stop for people before they head to an osteria or ristorante. Traditionally, they served no food, but more recently a lot of enotecas have started serving limited antipasti (appetizers) along with drinks.

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Osteria & trattorias are usually family owned casual neighbourhood eateries with rustic settings. Osterias traditionally have no set menu, and their offerings change daily. Tattorias too have a limited menu serving authentic local & ethnic food.
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A Ristorante in Italy is your standard full service restaurant, ideally with a host/hostess. Visit one if you’re looking for maximum choice, and someone who can guide you through your options as most of the wait staff is knowledgeable in food & wine.

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