Spending time with family and loved ones is a cornerstone of Italian culture, and nothing represents this better than the Italian family meal. At the heart of the family meal is the idea of convivialità, a word that translates to ‘friendliness’ or ‘hospitality’, but which really represents the coming together of family members of all generations to share stories, laughter, and love over a delicious and nourishing plate of food.
You may have heard of the saying, ‘you can’t rush perfection,’ and the same is true of an Italian family dinner. Courses are spread out over a period of several hours, encouraging lively conversation between plates.
At the beginning of the meal is the starter, or antipasti. Antipasti refers to a selection of appetisers such as cured meats, cheeses, bread and olive oil, which ease guests into the main meal. There are often two main courses, known as primi piatti and secondi piatti. Primi piatti are generally grain-based, often a pasta or a risotto dish, while secondi piatti are usually meat- or fish-based. The main courses are accompanied by side dishes called contorni, often vegetables, salads, or potatoes. Dessert is one of the most cherished parts of the meal, and is known as dolce, which means sweet. Tiramisù, panna cotta, and ice cream (gelato) can all be served as dolce.
In terms of drinks, the Italian dinner is often accompanied by mineral water, usually with both still and sparkling options available. This gives guests a refreshing way to cleanse their palate between courses. Other options for drinks include limonata, a kind of carbonated Italian lemonade with a slightly sweet flavour, usually served alongside dolce. At the end of a meal, the guests enjoy a cup of strong espresso, which is believed to aid digestion.
The Italian eating experience is, in a way, designed to encourage human connection in the spirit of convivialità. The length of time between plates enables guests to converse and take in the atmosphere, punctuated by unhurried consumption of lovingly prepared food. From the mindful way of eating promoted by this style of meal, to the ability of food to connect people, we can learn a lot from the Italian family dinner. And, by using the Originz range of Italian products like pasta, and olive oil, you can add the wholesomeness of natural, organic food to this friendly and welcoming culinary tradition!
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