Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dinner is Served

This morning on the radio the dj was talking about a survey that claims Italians no longer sit down to a full multiple course meal daily. Is this possible? Are we talking about Italy?



The basic traditional meal is typically at least this:

1. First course (pasta, rice or soup)
2. Second course (meat or cheese)
3. Side dish (salad, cooked or raw vegetables)

On special occasions (like Sunday lunch, a birthday or a holiday) you would add an appetizer, possibly a cheese course, fruit and dessert. Here in Puglia you wouldn't want to forget to start off the whole meal with a course of locally fished raw mollusks: mussels, oysters, clams, limpets, etc.



I am surprised to hear that this tradition is fading away and have to wonder where the people who were surveyed live. Not in Puglia, not in the Puglia I know, anyway. Here, eating is a tradition, the number one way of socializing, and almost a competitive sport. Yes, competitive.

The women, but not only, lots of men I know love to cook, try to outdo each other with their version of traditional recipes. When eating with friends, more is always better. People bring so much food that you would think a small army was being provisioned. And yet, somehow, at the end of lunch, it's always all gone...


People who don't eat everything, like me, are viewed with suspicion. What do you mean you don't want any more? What? You didn't like it? What do you mean you're full? There's always room for more. Even the quantity of consumption becomes competitive.

My husband and sons and I eat lunch together every day. Lunch for us is of the basic three course variety: first course, second course and side dish. If one of these elements is missing, my older son in particular gets rather upset...well, he is a growing 14 year old. He has a fair excuse. 


All the people I know eat this way. Together, sitting down at the table, set with a tablecloth. Seems like a pity to lose such a pleasant tradition.

8 comments:

Ms Bibi said...

Great post!

My husband is Italian and is used to family dinners like that. He has beautiful memories of the whole family sometimes 20-30 people getting together for planned and impromtu dinners at his nonna's and later at his mom's. Unfortunately, all that ended with his mom's passing and it seems like nobody has time to get together and keep the tradition going....very sad.

Saretta said...

Ms Bibi - it is sad! Eating together is such a convivial activity!

Alison said...

See, this is what I'm working so hard to bring back! Don't lose family dinners Italy!!!!

Lindsay said...

I love the tradition of eating together as family! It would be a shame to hear that they were letting it slip away. It was quite funny though how you mentioned Italians have a hard time understanding if you are too full to eat anymore. After eating authentic Italian food, I can see why they take such pride in it, it is incredibly delicious!

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Meal times are still very important to our neighbours, maybe the difference is between the big cities and more rural Italy.

StardustSavannah said...

I insist on sitting down for dinner with the family.
Its our most important meal of the day, because it is the one that we are all together for. I think the family unit has suffered with the onslaught of the fast food machine.

Tracy

Jennifer said...

Wow, I've always been amazed (and confused) by this tradition. Mostly because I've only ever eaten a meal all at once! Do they serve everything separately? Like at restaurants?...

Did I just sound like a hick? ;-)

Saretta said...

Jennifer - kind of like at a restaurant, yeah. First you have your bowl of pasta, then the bowl gets taken away and you get your plate of meat or fish...

You're not a hick! How can you know something if you've never had experience with it before? :-)