Family Meals in Italy

I suspect my previous posting explaining I had dinner twice at my Italian cousin Guido’s house last week might prompt some questions about what an Italian family eats for dinner. So, for those interested, I thought I would post the menu, please feel free to skip this entry if you are hungry or not at all interested. Sorry I don’t have pictures, perhaps next time I will be brave enough to pull out the camera.

Tuesday night was the ‘family dinner’ served at the kitchen table. The menu was:

There was no antipasta (the lack of which prompted my cousin’s wife, Elizabetta to apologize about for the first 10 minutes I was there)

First course: Pumpkin risotto (pumpkin is in season right now and it seems to be ending up in everything—ravioli, soup, risotto, etc)

Second course: something they called pizza though it was more like a flat quiche with egg and some form of Italian ham on a pastry crust cut into squares like they cut their pizza. I’m learning that here in Italy, pizza can be used to describe anything flat with toppings.

Third course: Salad.

Dessert: A custard with prunes and a prune sauce that Elizabetta had been given by the Brazilian home-nurse of her mother. This was looked on with great suspicion by the entire family for several minutes before Luca (Guido’s brother) decided to be brave and try it. He pronounced that it tasted like ‘fried air’ (I can’t remember how to say this in Italian). Everyone proceeded to take a bit to test it, but most of it ended up in the garbage. I have had several people (Americans and Italians) tell me that Italians are ‘food-phobic’ and don’t like to try new foods. Even when they travel they prefer to stick with pizza and pasta. This would explain why the hesitation over the dessert which every American I know would have inhaled in minutes without a second thought.

Friday night’s meal:

Antipasta: pizza with broccoli

First course: Spinach lasagna with a béchamel sauce

Second course: Thin slices of eggplant rolled around chunks of Italian ham that were then baked (though it was explained to me that these are typically fried)

Third course: cheeses from Sardinia and salad

Dessert: a Sicilian torte type dessert with pistachio and chocolate semi-freddo center (purchased from a bakery) and Venezuelan chocolate which my cousin Guido acquired on a recent trip there to do some consulting work.

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5 responses to “Family Meals in Italy

  1. Wow, your entry made me so hungry my stomach started growling! Sounds like you are having a great time. Everyone misses you in the lab.

  2. Participant observation at its best. Brings up to date Luigi Barzini’s 1964 great book “The Italians.”
    Congratulations on your blog and many thanks.

  3. Sign me up for the fried version of eggplant/Italian ham rolls. When you come to Indy you have to go with us to Goose Market and we will make these.

    And I’m about to embark on a prune dessert making binge. Stay tuned.

  4. I’ll trade you my Friday night meal for yours …
    I think I had cinnamon-raisin sprouted grain toast with peanut butter and honey, carrot sticks and vegan cookies

    Tyler, along with wheat free and dairy free, has now announced that he will only eat things that don’t come from animals.

  5. Sounds like fun and very yummy!

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