Italians have a reputation for being able to put away A LOT of food, and I’ve seen first hand the truth to that statement. Typically Italians will have their largest meal of the day for lunch, closing stores and shops to dine at home with their families. Dinner will tend to be on the lighter side of things, possibly consisting of salad, meat, or a small plate of pasta. While we typically think of Italians sitting down to a heaping mountain of spaghetti, I’ve actually found that the portions here are very moderate in comparison to our American standard. Not too much, not too little.
That is, unless you’re invited to an authentic Italian dinner party prepared to eat a four course meal, like we got the chance to experience last night! Over the past 4 weeks, our Ole Miss study abroad group has been fortunate enough to have befriended the owner, Enzo, of a local butcher and panino shop here in Salerno. After inviting us to his beautiful garden, we got to truly feel what it’s like to eat like an Italian!
This is the traditional first course of a formal Italian meal. Since we were lucky enough to be in the company of a butcher, a smorgasbord of cured meats, cheeses, olives, and tomatoes were brought out to start our dining experience. Grown straight from his garden, I think the tomatoes were my favorite part of the entire night!
2. Primo Piatti
After the appetizers are finished comes the traditional second course of the meal, usually consisting of a pasta dish localized to the region you’re dining in. For us, this meant LASAGNA: classico style. If you know me well, you know that I’m a sucker for some good lasagna, and this was some of the best I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a lot). The star of this dish was the bechamel sauce perfectly hidden in between the delicate layers of pasta. This lasagna had me joining the clean plate club!
3. Secondo Piatti
Traditionally, the secundo piatti (or second plate) will consist of a protein or meat dish, typically being the most expensive part of the meal. Especially here in the south, I have noticed that they typically cook a lot of red meat. Our 3rd course was comprised of hamburger, sausage, and a cut of beef paired with potatoes in rosemary and oil! At this point it was safe to say that the lasagna had generously taken up about 50% of my stomach, but the carnivore in me just could not resist!
My favorite! Of course no meal is finished without something to sweeten up our palates and no dessert is more Italian than the tiramisù. I have to admit that I don’t like coffee, so tiramisu has never been my go to treat, but this had me coming back for more! And, to finish off the night, we cheers-ed to some limoncello “for digestion” as Enzo so eloquently put it. If he says so, it just must be true!
As they say here in Italy, BUON-ISS-I-MO! My heart goes out to the wonderful people of Salerno that make me wonder how I am ever going to leave this beautiful place. I am so incredibly full (literally and figuratively) from the memories that I’ve made to truly last a lifetime. It’s times like these that remind me why life in Italy truly is “la dolce vita”.
Ciao a tutti!