Thursday, April 2, 2009

Is it Thanksgiving? (Melissa)

I cannot believe the Italian meal. I’ve been completely puzzled by it. Almost every time we go into a restaurant, they attempt to provide us with as much food (if not more) than Thanksgiving Dinner. And I’m not exaggerating.

From my experience so far, restaurants typically do not offer a menu. And from watching Italians, they typically do not use a menu. It seems like everyone just knows what they want, asks for it, and the restaurant provides something along those lines. So, since there is no menu, the way has been working is the waiter comes over and gets a drink order and ask if you want antipasti. Sometimes there is a choice of antipasti, sometimes not. So not knowing what to expect, you say “yes” to the antipasti…and then the parade of food begins.

One by one (or sometimes on a separate rolling cart brought over and left beside the table) they bring out 7, 8, 9 plates with various snacks on them. The food is delicious and they are only small portions, so of course you are going to eat it all. But after a half-dozen little snacks, one tends to start feeling full. But this is only the beginning.

After you polish off all the antipasti, the waiter appears again and now asks what primi piatti you would like. Well, you are kind of full, but the pastas they are offering sound wonderful (even though you are still wondering if you are ever going to see a menu during this meal) so you decide to try a primi piatti. They bring you the most delicious pasta you have ever eaten and surely you assume the meal is over.

But no, the waiter is back asking what your choice is for the secondo piatto. You are confused and looking around to see what other diners in the restaurant are doing. Not sure what else to do, you take the secondo piatto. Of course it is also the most delicious thing you have ever eaten (meat/fish/whatever). They ask if you want any contorni (side dishes) – luckily you say no and give a sigh of relief that you can now roll yourself out of the restaurant.

Not so fast – there is still dessert, caffe, fruit plate, cheese plate, digestivo. It goes on for about 12 rounds of fun. And the food is all heavenly, but you are so stuffed that you feel sick. So how on earth do the Italians have Thanksgiving dinner every single night?

Fortunately, I met Pierpaolo and had the good sense to ask him about this, because I was getting concerned about my waistline. Naturally he laughs and tells me “no one eats every course of the meal (unless maybe you are at a special event and plan on having a huge meal), you just pick and choose the ones you want”. Thank God! Now I know.

1 comment:

  1. Gotta Love it....
    Neither of you look like your putting on weight???
    How expensive are the meals????
    Melissa, are you coming home an Italian chef???

    And of course NO to socialized anything...
    If we get government run health there will be 5% of Americans with health insurance and sub standard care from the system for the other 95%.... Just like anything else the government has a hand in...

    We have freedom in the US to choose if we want to pay for something like health insurance...