For Italians, food is not to be taken lightly. In order to eat out in Italy without offending the locals, you must follow the unspoken rules of the kitchen: if you don’t want your restaurant dinner in the pizzeria to become your Last Supper, pay attention to the following guidelines.
- Thou must not drink milk in coffee after midday
Coffee for Italians is much more than just your morning dose of energy, it’s a central part of their lifestyle. The rules of coffee consumption are simple but significant, with one of the most important being that milky coffee is ONLY for drinking in the morning. Cappuccino is a breakfast drink; dare to order it after your main course in a restaurant and you risk bringing the waiter to tears.
- Thou must consume only beer with thy pizza
Would you like some red wine with your pizza? – Think again! Take a look at other restaurant tables and you’ll see that pizza and beer always go hand in hand.
- Thou must not grate parmesan over fish
Parmesan is known as the go-to topping for any Italian dish – but watch out! A general rule of thumb is that fish and cheese don’t go together.
- Though must not eat butter
Potentially the reason as to how Italians manage to stay slim, cooking with butter is generally avoided. Savoury dishes are made with oil, and even cakes and puddings are made with lighter ingredients.
- Thou must keep a hold of thy cutlery
Table etiquette in Italy goes that whilst plates change between courses, the same set of cutlery is used throughout the whole meal. For foreigners this might initially seem like a strange habit, but saving on washing up calls for a quick adaptation!
- Salted water never boils
Cooking pasta for Italians is already a stressful experience in itself, but let a grain of salt fall in the water before it’s boiling and prepare yourself to be met with despairing cries of “now we’ll never eat!”
- Salad is not a side
In Italy, salad is a course on its own which comes after the main. By the way, don’t forget the salt.
- Thy breakfast must will be forever sweet
Forget about the big savoury breakfasts you’re used to at home, in Italy small and sweet is the way to start the day. Typically breakfast consists of a pastry or a biscuit, or even just a macchiato.
- Thou must not refuse
A general rule: if someone offers you some food, you have no choice but to accept. Refuse their food and you risk losing them as a friend!
- Thy mother always knows best
Never mind what Delia, Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay have to say, the Italian mamma’s advice is always the right one, with every culinary decision justified indisputably with “my mum always does it this way!”