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Creating an Italian Feast


You can "taste" Italy without leaving your home, by preparing a traditional six-course Italian feast.

An Italian feast opens with antipasti (literally, “before the meal”), or appetizers. This typically consists of bruschettas, a light toasted bread that has been rubbed with a garlic clove and drizzled with olive oil. If toppings are added, this is called crostinis. Other antipasti are cured meats, canapes, salads, or vegetables dipped in Bagna Cauda (the classic anchovy dipping sauce).

The antipasti is followed by the primi, consisting of a light pasta or soup. Usually a delicate broth (as opposed to chunky stew-like minestrone) is served. Sometimes pasta is used in the soup, typically freshly made noodles cut into small squares (quadrucci) or irregular pieces (maltagliati) or thin capellini (angel hair). If only dry pasta is available, use very small, grain-sized pieces: peperinim stelline, or spaghetti cut into short pieces.

The main dish, secondi, is a meat or a fish platter. Some recipes will call for braciole, which means cutlets with the bone. Unless specified, it’s beef or veal. Steaks are called bistecca or costata. If meat is rolled up, it’s called involtini. There was a time in Italy’s history when beef was cheaper than chicken — no longer the case, but it does account for the number of beef dishes. Italian cuisine is known for its liberal use of garlic, so keep your garlic press handy. The secondi is served with the fourth course in an Italian feast, the contomi, a side dish of vegetables.

The Italian meal ends with dolce, equivalent to dessert: pastries like zeppole, served on St. Joseph’s day; doily-like cookies called pizelle; biscottis (twice-baked cookies that give an interesting crunch). Coffee is usually served after the meal.


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