Meals in Italy will have at least 3-4 courses. In many Italian homes today, the traditional menu is reserved for special occasions and daily meals are limited to 2 courses, a side dish and coffee. Traditionally the menu would look like this:
Apertivo - Aperitifs enjoyed as appetizers before a heavy meal. These include Campari, Prosecco, Spritz, Vermouth etc.
Antipasto - It means 'before the meal' and consists of hot and/or cold appetizers.
Primo - The first course, usually a hot, filling dish like pasta, risotto, gnocchi or soup.
Secondo - The second course, consisting of meat or fish.
Contorno - Means ' side dish' and is salad or cooked vegetables.
Formaggio e Frutta - 'Cheese and Fruits' which is the first dessert. Local cheese makes an appearance here in addition to Antipasto or the side dish.
Dolce - Of course 'Dessert', like cakes and cookies.
Digestivo/Ammazzacaffe - Liquors/liqeurs like Amaro, Limoncello, Sambuca which are sometimes referred to as Ammazzacaffe meaning Coffee killer.
Italians consider meals as a time to spend with family anf friends. As such the lunch or dinner may be longer than in most Western cultures. And it is as it should be. Hard earned food should be savored with much loved family. (Sigh!) I wish that all of us were granted with that bit of happiness. Well tomorrow is Saturday so I can aim for the happiness of making and eating some Italian food with my family. So come back day-after and I promise to post those recipes by then. Ciao and Xin Fu to you !