A very important part of Italian culture is “Eating”, this spans through many ways of life so it’s not that much of a unique facet of it, but as every other culinary culture there are certain rules that make it unique. Plus, we’ve got to keep in mind that all of our articles revolve around Italy. Starting off from the first meal of the day all the way to how to take your caffè after dinner. There are a lot of different Italian habits in the dinner table etiquette, but don’t be afraid you’ll learn them nice and quick.
We could talk about the historic Galateo, a tome that was left by Bishop Galeazzo Florimonte in 1558. A book that put in word the manners that one should have at the dinner table, and one of them is how one should put their napkin on their lap while eating. Plus there are a whole lot of different table etiquette manners that I won’t really be putting in here, cause that isn’t the focus today. Today we focus on table etiquette, at the Italian table. To make it shorter and SEOy Italian dining etiquette.
From what I see many of you are asking yourselves “What is table manners and etiquette” that is a question we can answer in part in the next paragraphs, we’ll teach you about Italian etiquette for tourists in Italy.
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Let’s look at this Italian dining etiquette and Italian etiquette tips together from Breakfast to the Amazzacaffè.
La Colazione, or Breakfast, isn’t as slow and heavy as in many other countries. Italian eating etiquette promotes a quick coffee and a pastry that you usually will eat while standing at the bar. I’ll tell you when I first realised this I was a bit baffled, I personally used to enjoy sitting down for breakfast and taking my time, but now I take my coffee standing up even when I’m at home. Also, there is one unwritten rule that we’ve already talked about in another article, and that is how you should only have a Cappuccino in the morning, but really do whatever you want, I’ve seen Italians be all cool and dandy about the laws of Italian food culture, and than jones for a Grande Caramel Macchiato at SB.
Lunch time is a bit more convivial, and the main focus on this time of the day is the way you consume bread. It’s the norm in Italian manners and customs that for lunch you’re probably going to mostly eat carbs. So, let’s say you order a nice place of Pasta al Pomodoro (see I’m including everyone) and while you’re waiting at the table, you have a nice plate of bread right in the middle of the table, a centrepiece fit for the Gods of Old Olympus, the Gods Old and New (getting those Game of Thrones references cause I’m excited) and you have the urge to have a piece before you eat. DO NOT, I mean you can, but Italian table etiquette imposes that you wait for the main course to arrive, so you don’t spoil your appetite. Plus, you need that bread to clean the plate at the end with the famous “Scarpetta”.
Merenda, is our snack time, a very important part of Italian Culture, I placed it here after lunch, but it can be anywhere between Breakfast and Lunch, or Lunch and Dinner. I won’t talk about it that much, but I’ll point out one thing that many foreigners find odd. How can Italians always be at the bar having a coffee? Well that’s their Merenda, when you’re a kid it’s probably a piece of bread with Nutella when you grow up it
When it comes to Italian dinner etiquette you’ll see that it doesn’t differ too much from that of lunch, except for the way you decide to finish your meal. Let’s say that you’ve ordered too much food cause everything looked so good, and you’ve learned that food portions in Italy are a bit more contained, so you want to exaggerate a bit. Don’t ask to take it home with you, I mean probably the place won’t even have doggy bags on offer. It’s an odd Italian table etiquette, and it doesn’t come from a sense of elitism as one could think, it’s a tradition that dates back to the end of WWII, implying that you were wasting food if you weren’t finishing it.
Caffè e Amazzacaffè
Even though they are considered part of dinner, these two need their own section. Italian manners and etiquette impose that you order your coffee after having dessert, you shouldn’t be sipping on coffee while having a tiramisù. That is because you’ll mess up the flavours of the espresso (ten type of italian coffee) . So, always have your coffee after dessert. For the daring ones, there is the amazzacaffè, something that can be a grappa, an amaro, a digestive of any sort. This is something you’ll need if you had one of those super heavy dinners and want to enjoy a nice rest, without feeling like you just ate the whole worlds supply of food babies.