Pranzo in Italia (Lunch in Italy)

I'll start by saying that lunch in Italy is a major event. Depending on the occasion, lunch can last anywhere between 1-6 hours. I've experienced a 6 hour lunch, it's not for the faint of heart! It's quite the time consumer. I have a love/hate relationship with the Italian way of lunching. What kind of frustrates me about an Italian lunch (everyday, not just events) is that there's this need to sit and eat a huge meal. This is precisely at 1 everyday. This eats (no pun intended) a huge chunk of your day and it drives me nuts. Now that L and I are living on our own there is more flexibility, which is wonderful.  Today we each ate a sandwich, which is somewhat of a rare occurrence here in Italy. Unfortunately, despite eating a quick lunch, the whole city shuts down for 1-3/4 in the afternoon everyday. It's been as such for centuries, I get it, Italians aren't going to change over night or ever but for me (even after 2 years) it takes some getting used to.
Toss aside your conception of pasta being something eaten primarily at dinner, here in Italy pasta is rarely eaten at dinner. Pasta is lunch, along with a protein dish. Here's how it works: sometimes, before we get home to eat lunch we will have an aperitivo. If an Italian were to describe what an aperitivo is to you they'd explain that they need to get ready to eat lunch by basically eating a miniature lunch and a bitter drink to get the stomach juices flowing. Usually this is enough food for a normal North American lunch. But alas, her we go with the actual lunch: we begin with an antipasto (the literal translation is before the meal) which will often times be a panino or olives/cheese/bread etc. The size of this course changes. Antipasto is followed by "il primo piatto" (the first plate) which is usually a pasta dish. Last Saturday we joined a group of friends for a huge weekend feast. There were two pasta dishes to begin with, aglio e olio (garlic and oil) and a pasta with peppers and eggplant. Of course, I ate both. And that was just the beginning! To follow il primo there is usually a meat dish, known as "il secondo" (the second plate) which is a meat or fish dish. The lunch with friends was last minute so instead of a second dish we had rucola with bresaola (a delicious type of cured beef) and grano padana with little bread loaves filled with olves. If there's one thing L and I love, it's eating at new and typical restaurants around the region we live in, Abruzzo. This region is famous for it's meats - roasted, cured, baked etc. If you visit Abruzzo, everyone will ask you if you've tried arrosticini (seasoned pieces of sheep roasted on a stick). Historically, lunch was the main event of the day in Italy because of all the agriculture. Farmers would wake up early and work until lunch, which would be a big meal. Food to keep them fuelled for the day. Dinner would be small and at 8 as to not effect the quality of sleep.

(San Vito fish restaurant with friends June 2016 - calamari, salmon, lasagna, white wine etc)

(Various pasta dishes at Sapore D'arte- Pescara 2016)

(Arrosticini - sheep, Le Ginestre 2016)

(Arrosticini and myself posing for the camera)

To find the true meaning of a quintessential Italian meal you must start with a typical Italian lunch. Lunch is definitely when the best food comes out to shine. If you're looking for a 5 course meal that will take 6 hours to eat, you've come to the right country! My next entry will be about a typical Italian dinner. If you have any questions about lunch in Italy, let me know. Until next time! 

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