Corso d'Italiano - Italian Lessons

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Posts: 354
Joined: 03 Sep 2012 21:27
Location: Modena, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Re: Corso d'Italiano - Italian Lessons

Post by Alessio » 19 Aug 2016 12:03

Well this thread has been dead for a while, hasn't it.
I was reading through my old lessons and I realized that some of them weren't very clear, and most were written as if I was in a hurry - which I probably was. I've been thinking about starting over again, but that would be dumb, since I'm still available for any explanation you might need, just send me a PM or write here.

Anyways, I'm going to try and add some more lessons about topics we haven't discussed or we have discussed poorly; there was almost nothing about Italian culture, and while we talked a lot about grammar, almost nothing was said about the actual usage of the language.

So here comes my first new lesson, which is about Italian culture, and specifically food.

Italian Food - Il cibo italiano
Well, Italians love food. We eat whenever we can, whatever we can - or is the latter false?
Actually, we eat a lot of things, but whatever we can sounds like we eat garbage. We do eat some garbage at times - specifically what Americans call fast food [;)]
However, as you know, Italy was the place where pasta and pizza started spreading from, although sometimes there is some... discussion as to whether they were invented here or not. I don't actually care, since everybody around the world associates pasta and pizza with a green, white and red flag :ita:
But let's get down to business!

Italians normally eat three meals - breakfast (colazione), lunch (pranzo) and dinner (cena). Not much more than that. Many young people eat something mid-morning and mid-afternoon (merenda), but this is not really a tradition, and in my opinion not a real meal either (we eat mostly snacks).
The typical Italian breakfast includes milk (or tea or fruit juice), biscuits, yogurt, corn-flakes and fruit, in no particular order and not necessarily all together. Milk with biscuits is many Italians' favorite breakfast (and mine too!), but so is (sour) yogurt and corn-flakes, or milk and corn-flakes. Anyways, we tend to eat way less than we should for breakfast - nothing like the English eggs and bacon, c'mon guys, how can you eat salty food for breakfast? [:P]
As for lunch and dinner, they're pretty much identical, except we tend to eat more food for lunch than we do for dinner. The typical Italian meal is composed by 2 courses, called, quite intuitively, first course (primo piatto, or just primo) and second course (secondo piatto, or just secondo). There's no real main course, since both contain usually the same amount of food, although of different kinds: a primo will generally be pasta, rice or minestra (which would be a synonym for primo piatto, but we normally use it to mean broth with particular kinds of pasta and/or vegetables). A common exception to this is gnocchi, eaten in place of pasta but made with potatoes (therefore not included in the real definition of "pasta"); traditionally, they were eaten on Thursdays, whence the saying giovedì gnocchi.
A secondo is usually meat (pork, beef or chicken) or fish. The most typical Italian secondo is probably the bistecca alla fiorentina (Florence steak), a T-bone beef steak eaten al sangue (underdone). However, the fiorentina costs a lot (normally around 40€/kg), so we don't eat that often; we prefer cotoletta alla milanese (Milan cutlet), that is breaded and fried meat (traditionally veal). Other typical secondi are involtini (meat rolls), spiedini (meat on skewers), polpette (meatballs, which, contrarily to popular belief, we do not eat with spaghetti) and in general anything that resembles a steak.

But what can you eat with pasta? You have multiple choices, although many kinds of pasta have their own preferred condimento. For example, who has never eaten spaghetti pomodoro e basilico (with tomato sauce and basil)? Well, me for one. I don't like it, too cliché, nothing like the real courses we can make with pasta! For example, tagliatelle alla bolognese. Outside Italy, there is a tendency to eat spaghetti with bolognese sauce instead, and although we do eat that sometimes, we prefer tagliatelle (long, flat pasta). Then we have linguine al pesto (or alla genovese), a kind of pasta very similar to spaghetti eaten with a sauce made with fresh basil and pine nuts; or bucatini all'amatriciana, typically Roman hollow spaghetti in a sauce containing mainly guanciale (similar to bacon).
But we don't eat only spaghetti and similar pasta, of couse! We have maccheroni (resembling sleeves, best eaten with bolognese sauce), penne (like maccheroni, but with spiky edges, best with cream and pancetta, which is non-smoked bacon), fusilli (spring-shaped pasta which I personally like with tuna), orecchiette (typically Apulian ear-shaped pasta eaten with turnip greens or broccoli), gobbetti (shell-shaped, eaten with chickpeas/garbanzos), and the famous Modenese/Bolognese tortellini, filled with meat and eaten with broth or cream (some eat them with bolognese sauce, but this is considered blasphemous near their places of origin).

As for sidings, we like a lot patate arrosto (roasted potatoes), patat(in)e fritte (fries), purè (potato cream) and anything involving potatoes in general; you can also find vegetables, especially zucchine (sometimes called zucchini as in English), melanzane (aubergines) and fagiolini (green beans).

When we eat pizza, it's usually eaten on its own, outside of the primo-secondo paradigm. Typically, a margherita costs around 4€ in Italy, making it by far the cheapest food (a pasta course costs from 7€ on) and, therefore, the most eaten one when going out. After pizza, why not eat a good dolce (dessert)? For example, the typical panna cotta, mascarpone, zabaione or one of the Italian reigonal specialties like torta Barozzi (chocolate and coffee cake) which you can find around the city of Vignola, province of Modena.

Of course, official meals may have an antipasto (entry), which can be di terra (without fish) or di mare (with fish), caldo (warm) or freddo (cold), and comprising many things, amongh which crostini (bread toasted in an oven with almost anything you can come up with on top of them). In addition to that, official meals often include two primi and two secondi rather than one each.

Fine, this was everything about Italian food. If you have any curiosity about some particular type of food, just ask!
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Zythros Jubi
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Re: Corso d'Italiano - Italian Lessons

Post by Zythros Jubi » 19 Aug 2016 15:03

How about regional difference of food in Italy?

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