Cicchetti, also referred to by the Venetians as cicchetin, comes from the Venetian verb: to cicchettare, which means to snack on delectable bite size gastronomical treasures positioned on bread. Okay, maybe those are not the exact words our Venetian friends used to describe it, but it was definitely what we experienced as we cicchettin-ed our way through the various bacaro – that’s Venetian for osteria or wine bar and what our friends described as a Venetian’s home away from home.
The most traditional recipes of the cicchetti (antipasto) (appetizer) are baccala’ mantecato (creamed codfish) made with dried codfish, soaked and then whipped with garlic and olive oil that happily tastes like butter and cipolle in saòr (onions caramelized in vinegar). No consumption of cicchetti (usually invoked in the plural, as it is impossible to just eat one cicchetto) would be complete without being accompanied by l’ombra – that’s Venetian for glass of wine, and means “shade”, as in that into which you step to avoid the sun, cool off, and drink refreshing beverage… natch.
You could say that cicchetti are your Venetian version of aperitivo, but since drinking un ombra or uno spritz (white wine and mixer, usually Campari or Aperol) is allowed after 10 am, (why wait till the afternoon?) it is considered more of a Venetian pastime to be enjoyed all day long.