“Ciao!” I’ve returned to the Daily during my semester abroad in Italy. I’m doing my best to absorb as much culture as I can, and — you guessed it — a great way to appreciate Italy is through food.
Similar to what Americans think Italians eat all the time, Italians do eat a lot of pasta and pizza. However, the way Italians eat food is quite different. A casual dinner starts around 8 p.m. and usually consists of an appetizer, “primi piatti” (first plate), “secondi piatti” (second plate) and some sort of dessert. Of course, wine is a must during the meal.
After the meal, some opt for a cup of coffee or even “caffÃ¨ corretto,” which is a shot of espresso with a small amount of liquor (usually Sambuca, Grappa or Brandy).
Bruschetta is an “antipasto” (starter dish) in Italy. It is grilled bread usually topped with tomatoes, olive oil and salt. It’s actually pronounced “broo-sket-ah.”
1/2 cup olive oil
2 big tomatoes (any type
Big pinch of salt
1 clove garlic
5-7 basil leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Mince the tomatoes, and put them in a medium-sized bowl. Generously salt them.
2. Chiffonade (which is a fancy term for rolling up the leaves and cutting them) the basil leaves, and add them to the bowl. Add a few cracks of black pepper. Let the tomatoes marinate.
3. Halve the baguette lengthwise, and cut the halves into 2-inch pieces.
4. Dredge the pieces of bread in the olive oil, and toast them on the pan.
5. Once the bread pieces are toasted, rub on the garlic clove. Rub a lot if you’re a garlic lover.
6. After letting the tomatoes sit for about 10-15 minutes, top generous amounts of the tomato mixture on to the pieces of bread.
7. Drizzle some olive oil on top.
Optional: Add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar to brighten up the dish.
In Italy, a panino is not a grill-pressed hot sandwich; it is a regular sandwich. The term panini is actually the plural form of panino.
The Italian way to construct a panino is rather straightforward; although, there are certain things that should never be mixed.
Rule 1: Never mix two types of meat.
Rule 2: Never mix fish with cheese. For example, tuna and mozzarella is a big no-no.
Rule 3: Generally, on the sandwich, there should be one item per category. One meat, one cheese, one vegetable and one spread.
Rule 4: Do not mix hard flavors and soft flavors. For example, you should not mix prosciutto crudo, which is hard-flavored, with mozzarella, which is soft-flavored.
Another tip: Pesto is not a spread; it’s a pasta sauce.
1 piece of ciabatta
3 slices of speck (type of ham)
2 thin slices of fontina
A bunch of arugula
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Halve the ciabatta, and place speck and fontina on the bottom half.
2. Add in some arugula, and then drizzle on some balsamic vinegar.
3. Crack some black pepper, and cover with top half.