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Italian Lesson 5
Level 2 Lesson 5: Surviving in Italy, Eating, Drinking in Italy. More Italian Words To Know.
There is no doubt that if you want to experience good eating and drinking Italy is the right place to visit. The abundant offer of places can however became a bit confusing at first. We hope that this short guide will help you in having a clearer idea and enjoy your Italian dining experience.
Firstly, it is important to know what sort of meal we are looking for: colazione (breakfast), pranzo (lunch) or cena (dinner).
An Italian colazione is served at the "bar" (café) where you can sit at the table (tavolo) or most often stand at the bench (banco). No takeaway coffee! You can order an espresso (short strong black coffee), a macchiato (espresso with a frothy milk, hot (macchiato caldo) or cold (macchiato freddo)), a cappuccino (coffee in a bigger cup with frothy milk, often you can just ask "Un cappuccio per favore") or a caffelatte (the equivalent of an American latte; note: if you just ask for "latte" in Italy, you will be served a glass of milk and be looked strangely by most waiters). Cappuccino and latte often will be served with cacao (cocoa powder). If you prefer a hot tea, ask for "té caldo", "con limone" (lemon) or "con latte" (milk). Usually you'll get a cup of hot tea (una tazza di tè caldo). Herbal teas are called "tisane" and camomile is "camomilla".
Please note that cappuccino and caffelatte are considered a breakfast drink. Order one after 10 am and most people will think one of two things: you have slept in too long or you are a foreigner (ok fair enough, after all you are one!). Other types of coffee can be ordered for lunch or dinner, but usually at the end of the meal, not with it!
Typical Italian breakfast food is a brioche, also called croissant or cornetto (it's the same in most bar and it's sweet, not savoury). They can be "al cioccolato" (with chocolate), "alla crema" (with custard), o "alla marmellata" (with jam). Rarely an Italian café would offer cereals (cereali), muesli (the same), or even worse bacon and eggs (uova e pancetta) and all other food typically eaten for breakfast in the Anglo-saxon worlds. You can also find a “toast” that is the same in English, so usually a hot sandwich with ham and cheese.
For "pranzo" you have a wide variety of choices: at the same bar you might find un panino (a sandwich) with prosciutto cotto (ham), prosciutto crudo (prosciutto), mortadella (bologna), porchetta (a very tasty pork cured meat), lattuga (lettuce), maionese (mayonnaise), pomodori (tomatoes), tonno (tuna), formaggio (cheese, or more specifically brie, mozzarella or provolone) and many more ingredients skillfully put together or an insalata (salad with usually lettuce, mozzarella, tuna, olives and other ingredients). To drink you can ask for un bicchiere di vino rosso o bianco (a glass of wine red or white), una birra (a beer), acqua naturale o gassata (still or fizzy water), a fruit juice (un succo di frutta), a cold tea (tè freddo), an orange juice (spremuta di arance) or any other soft drink you like (una bibita gassata).
If you are on the run most cities have take-away pizza (pizza da asporto) that you can buy by the slice (una fetta di pizza). If you prefer to sit down you can look out for a ristorante (restaurant), agriturismo (restaurant with local products) a pizzeria (pizza parlour) or a taverna, trattoria, osteria or tavola calda (various names for a sort of diner, usually not as refined as a restaurant but still offering hearty meals and table service).
Just sit down and call the "cameriere" (waiter), asking him for the "menu" or the "lista". A good choice is usually the "piatto della casa" (dish of the house) or the "offerta del giorno" (day's offer) or the “menu del giorno” (day’s menu).
For dinner (cena) you have the same options of lunch, so you can seat at a restaurant or try a pizzeria. In most pizzerie today also other dishes are served, as well as pizzas (the opposite is not always true, many restaurants do not serve pizza). For dinner or a late night meal, you can also look for a pub (a kind of cafè that usually serves sandwiches, chips, drinks and more till late night). Usually, ristorante, agriturismo, pizzeria, taverna, trattoria, osteria and tavola calda will be closed at about 23:00/24:00 in the week and 24:00/01:00 in the week-end.
Starting with the drink you can have a "vino bianco" (white wine), or "vino rosso" (red wine), by the glass (bicchiere), by the bottle (bottiglia, usually more expensive), or a kind of wine of the house without bottle served in a carafe (vino sfuso della casa, usually less expensive). Birra (beer) is more readily ordered with a pizza than at a fancy restaurant, but hey.... this is your meal after all!
Eating at a restaurant can be a trully extenuating experience: you have antipasti (entrees, they can be affettati (cured meat), formaggi (cheese), local produce (specialità locali) or many other interesting combinations), primi piatti (first or main course, usually pasta, risotto (creamy rice with a variety of ingredients) or lasagne), secondi piatti (second course, usually carne (meat, in the form of a bistecca (steak) or filetto (fillet) or arrosto (roast) or pesce (fish)), contorni (side dishes. Note that generally a secondo is NOT accompanied by vegetables (verdure) or salad (insalata) unless specified, therefore you will have to order them separately, as well as if you want to have chips (patatine fritte)). Finally we have a dolce (dessert: torta (cake), gelato (ice cream), meringa (merengue), tartufo (truffle), sorbetto (lemon ice cream), tiramisu are some of the most common), un caffé and possibly un ammazzacaffé (a spirit to help you digest the meal, such as "un amaro", an aromatic alchoolic beverage distilled from various herbs or “una grappa” a kind of brandy).
After all of this you can ask for the "conto" (bill), pay "alla romana" (the bill is divided equally between everyone else), or "separatamente" (each one pays for himself) and if you want you can leave the "mancia" (tip) to the cameriere. It is by no means compulsory, especially since many restaurants already charge a "coperto" (fee for cutlery, glasses, tablecloth and bread) and a "servizio" (a percentage of the total bill for the work of the waiters and kitchen staff).
And if you think that a dinner in an Italian restaurant is a long and exhausting meal, try to go to a traditional Italian wedding, where three or four different dishes are served for every course! Remember that not all the pizzeria, ristorante, agriturismo, osteria, taverna, tavola calda…are open for lunch and for dinner, some of them could be open just for lunch or just for dinner.
ITALIAN PROVERBS AND IDIOMS
AN ESSENTIAL DICTIONARY OF ITALIAN - PART 5
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