Every meal is an important part of Italian life and culture – especially on Sunday when families gather together for a long lunch, one that usually last for a minimum of three hours. For Easter (Pasqua) this year we headed down to Gaeta, a beautiful city along the coast in southern Italy where some of my husband’s family lives. (It reminds me a lot of Sausalito, California if anyone is familiar with the Bay Area).
That weekend was an incredible feast, and I had no idea what kind of food coma I was about to get myself into. We arrived Saturday afternoon, and went straight to a baby baptism dinner event on Saturday night (the eve before Easter) that went until 12am. Easter Sunday was the next day and naturally, we spent 6 hours at the restaurant eating, eating, eating, talking and drinking wine… and eating. I don’t know why I was surprised at how long the meal lasted or how much food they served, but I was. Note to self: pace yourself. I mean, I don’t even eat everything (probably half) because luckily my husband helps me with all the stuff I can’t finish, but I still feel completely full. I think it’s just because our bodies aren’t used to this type of marathon eating back in the States. And you know, you don’t want to offend anyone by refusing their precious food offering (similar to what happens with my family in Thailand, my experiences in France, and stories I’ve heard from Greek friends) – everyone is always worried you’re not eating enough!
So… in the end, you just watch as the food keeps coming; the endless bowls of bread, antipasti (usually some form of seafood in the south if you’re anywhere near the coast), followed by a first (see the large plate of pasta with seafood or “frutti di mare”), and then a second (heavier meat or fish, as if you are still hungry)… then there’s bound to be a cheese platter towards the end, a dessert or two or three, a caffè (espresso) and finally some type of digestif such as limoncello (which is Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur mainly produced in Southern Italy, especially in the region around the Gulf of Naples).
And then it’s a wrap. For that day. The following day, Monday, is Pasquette: Easter Monday. Bring on the family BBQ and we start all over! That was probably the most food I’ve ever eaten in a three-day period in my life! Needless to say, I generally need to go on a little diet before and after each trip to the south. (Because when we’re not eating pasta and seafood, we’re eating the famous pizza from Naples and plenty of mozzarella and prosciutto).
Curious to know about your Italian food experiences! 🙂