How to eat like an Italian

by Annie

Very often I am asked: how do Italians manage to eat so much while they are so thin? People coming to Italy for the first time seem to be under the impression that every day Italians eat the same type of multi-course meal that is offered in a restaurant. First timers seem to be also convinced that the whole population survives on spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, veal parmesan and pizza, all smothered in vast amounts of cheese and tomato sauce.

I actually don’t think that Italians are that thin – may be I see myself in the mirror – but that’s another story. Modern Italians are busy people, like anybody else in the world. They go to their work, suffer through fast food lunches, crash on the couch in the evening. No siesta, that’s for babies and pensioners.

However, if they have the time or they are lucky enough to live near their work, Italians definitely prefer to eat a warm meal at home. Italians love their home food.

Despite the aggression of globalization and mass food production, fresh regional food is still widely consumed and appreciated. A weekday meal is a simple affair, no appetizers, no desserts. Some families will have a first course of pasta, rice or soup and a second course of meat, fish or eggs with a side of salad or steamed greens. Others will have the same as above but split between two meals, e.g. pasta for lunch and meat for dinner, with some fruits to finish and a small cup of espresso. Good, light food made with seasonal ingredients, small portions, limited amounts of fat and protein, lots of vegetables. Of course we like it.

Ask any Italian where’s the best restaurant. The majority will tell you that the best restaurant is home. And they are right!

– Contributed by Letizia Mattiacci. Cooking school and B&B owner, passionate home-cook, blogger and traveler.

Letizia lives on a magical mountain near Assisi in Italy. Former chemical ecologist, she has left the academic career together with her husband Ruurd to renovate a 500 years old farmhouse in Umbria. After years of travels and hard work the dream has turned into Agriturismo B&B Alla Madonna del Piatto, which is run by the family now completed by daughter Tea and dog Google.
You can read Letizia’s recipes and stories about food, family and travel in Umbria on her blog.

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