So Italy is one of those places that when it comes to mind, you can’t help but think of food.
And that’s normal — Italians are known for the variety of delicious dishes they offer as well as the fresh ingredients they use. The cuisine was arguably one of the favorite aspects of my travels there, and although the wonderful meals are the main feature, it is also important to note that Italians have a unique meal progression.
ANTIPASTO – meaning “before meal” – generally consists of appetizers (hot or cold)
some common antipasto dishes are bruschetta and caprese salad
BRUSCHETTA – grilled bread generally topped with olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, salt, and pepper
CAPRESE SALAD – slices of tomato, mozarella cheese, and basil leaves layered on top of one another
PRIMO – “first course” – generally consists of a hot larger-size dish
popular primo dishes are any pasta dish, minestrone, or risotto
MINESTRONE – traditional Tuscan soup consisting of onions, peppers, beans, pasta noodles, and cheese. Sometimes meat is added as well
SPAGHETTI ALLA CARBONARA – spaghetti pasta topped with bacon, cheese, and a white sauce made from egg and cream
SPAGHETTI ALLA CHITTARA – what we think of when we hear spaghetti — consists of Chittara noodles topped with a meat or tomato based red bolognese sauce
GNOCCHI – potato pasta dumplings topped with various ingredients
RISOTTO – northern Italian rice dish cooked until creamy in a broth with other add-ins. The broth can be meat, seafood, or vegetable based.
PIZZA MARGHERITA – the famous and delicious Italian classic pizza – very simple with only tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and basil
SECONDO – “second course” – the main dish, generally consisting of fish or meat.
some common secondo dishes are Acqua Pazza, Bistecca Fiorentina, and Piccata
ACQUA PAZZA – poached white fish (generally cod, swordfish, or sea bass) covered in broth and vegetables
BISTECCA FIORENTINA – a large Italian-bred steak that is grilled and served with lemon wedges and often some sort of starch
CHICKEN PICCATA – chicken that is sliced, coated with flour, and then cooked in olive oil. Served alongside pasta and vegetables. Veal Piccata is a popular variation on this dish.
DOLCE – “sweet” – generally a small dessert item intended to cleanse the palette
popular dolce dishes are tiramisu, biscotti, and gelato
TIRAMISU – made of ladyfingers dipped in coffee surrounded by a cream made of cheese and sugar and topped with cocoa powder
BISCOTTI – sweet bread that is cut diagonally into slices and then baked again in the oven until crispy. Various add-ins include nuts, chocolate chips, and fruit
GELATO – the Italian word for ice cream, it is made from sugar, cream, and milk. It is lower in fat than typical ice cream, and is available in a variety of fruity or decadent flavors.
Those are the basics — however I will note that there are many many other dishes in Italy that are just as delicious, so don’t be picky and enjoy!