If you want to enjoy a real Italian holiday, you have to shake your culinary tastes resembling Italians, and Abruzzesi people in particular that have a relaxed attitude toward eating out.
You will sooner discover Italians eat in a different manner than UK people; in Italy it is quite a common habit to have a full-meal during all weekdays, although nowadays employees are more going in favour of snack during their lunch time to leave room for a proper dinner (ah, in Italy the dinner is the evening meal!!).
An Italian meal is normally made of four sections:
- Antipasti – the starters – a selection of local tasty salami, prosciutto, cheeses and hot and cold nibbles.
- Primi – the pasta course. All pasta is of course excellent, but if you want to taste the Abruzzo’s unique speciality, go for the “Chitarra” (squared spaghetti) or the “Rintrocili”.
- Secondi – what in UK it is possible to identify as a main course. Char-grilled meat is very popular, especially Lamb that is very tasty and delicious in Abruzzo due to the great number of drove. However, don’t forget you are in a seafood place and fresh fish like sea bream, sea bass, octopus salad should not be missed. Also mussels and clams are worth a taste, although they are quite often served as a starter, but it is up to you move them forward as a “Secondo”.
- Dolci – the desserts. Fresh fruit, or firm Italian favourites like “tiramisu”, “panna cotta” and “semi-freddo”, or a more local selection of traditional sweets like caggionetti, pesche dolci, parrozzo, crispelle or pizzelle with (or without) Italian custard.
In some circumstances you might see also Contorni – which are separately listed side dishes like mixed salad, potatoes (roasted or fried) or local vegetable like chard or spinach.
You may be not always hungry, so do not worry about the different eating style. It’s completely acceptable to order just some starters and a main course to be sip with good wine, leaving your 4-course gourmet extravaganza for the Sunday lunch.
Italian kitchen it’s just fine for mixing, matching and sharing your courses with other people on your table, allowing you to taste a wide selection of dishes in one go.
If entering in a restaurant you will suddenly become scared about the big portions, you can also go for your antipasti and wait until you’ve finished before deciding what you’d like next – especially if you’re eating in an agriturismo, where it’s not unusual to be given something like ten to fifteen different starters (mezes).
Last but not least, in Italy you don’t have to worry about if you are running late because of your sightseeing; you’ll find most Abruzzo restaurants to be happy cooking well past 10pm.