is very much part of Italian culture and it is hard to give
advice on a major part of a country's culture on a single
web page. Here we provide a very brief introduction to the subject with a focus on Veneto food and Veneto wine.
cycled all morning, visited walled cities and their museums all
afternoon, you've walked the town in the evening, you've slept
well and woken up hungry. What's for breakfast? Breakfast is not taken very seriously in Italy and eating in your hotel will be the best of a bad job. But if your idea of breakfast is a thimbleful of coffee and a dry croissant then take yourself off to a bar instead.
that the most important meal of the day is out of the way, let's
consider the rest.
meals are generally similar to other Western European meals. There is
the occasional slightly worrying dish, for example (for a
citizen of the UK), the Veronese horse meat stew - Pastissada de Caval
(with paprika and Amaretto) - is not just a bizarre dish, it is frankly
revolting. Similarly, donkey salami would worry many Brits.
Despite this the country has a
reputation for producing sophisticated, world class cuisine and yet
retains much of the family connection which is so important to the
people of Italy. Good restaurants are often merely developments of
enlarged home kitchens. Rice, grown on the banks of the Po, is
critical to many dishes making delicious, slightly runny, risotto. Pasta, polenta and gnocchi make up the other basics. Heavy bean
soups, the famous red radish leaf salads and a range of pork
salami is available. Tiramisu was invented in the area and is made
of mascarpone cheese, coffee, Marsala wine, sponge fingers and
the week many bars offer a three course meal (with house wine)
of the day at 12 noon. To find the best ones, follow
workers from the local area as they knock off at 12 and when you walk in ask if you can eat. Don't be surprised if you are then shown into a crowded room at the back of the bar where half the village is tucking into their antipasto.
There may well be no choice so look out for a chalk board menu or if in doubt have a quick look at what
other people are eating. Generally dishes will be the cheaper cuts of
meat or they may be based on cheese, pulses and vegetables.
"Proper" restaurants (trattoria, osteria) will
offer the traditional fare both in the evening and at lunchtime, consisting of these courses:
(small cold cuts of meat or cold vegetables) which can be self
which will tend to be soup, risotto or a pasta dish
will be a meat or fish dish often without vegetables, but cortoni
(vegetables) can be ordered separately
or frutta (pudding or fruit) and formaggi (cheeses)
you have been doing loads of exercise on your bike holiday you may be
able to eat your way through the whole meal but most of the time you will want to limit yourself. It is quite normal to order
only say antipasto and secondo or primo and dolci, whatever you feel like. Generally it is becoming more popular to
eat the main meal in the evening and for lunch to be lighter. You
will also find pizzeria, spaghetterie and sandwich bars serving panini.
dishes are normally marked V on the menu in classier places and due to a history of
vegetable and pulse-based dishes you will encounter little problem finding
this type of food in cities. As you head out into the countryside
the concept of vegetarianism becomes less familiar but a careful perusal of the antipasto and primo sections of the menu should reveal plenty of meat-free dishes. This part of Italy is famous for dairy products and vegans will have problems, as in most places.
cream - once you have seen an Italian ice cream parlour with all the
multi-coloured pots you will want to try it. You will see even rough, tough-looking Italian males licking a cone as they walk home. The product is freshly made with cream and eggs
and will normally be produced on the premises. Pastries also
include krapfen (doughnuts), various biscuits (baicoli, bussolai), and
mandolato (nougat and toffee made with almonds).
have struggled to find a good Italian food translation website, but this is the best one we have seen.
In Italy the menus will only be in English if there are lots
of tourists around. However staff will slow down and try to
You may find a few North
African and Chinese restaurants in larger towns. After a week or 10 days of nothing but Italian food, the variety is welcome.