Facts About Italian Food

Part 1

1.  Food is a very important topic in Italy!

There is a well-known Italian saying - 'l'appetito vien' mangiando.'  This literally means: appetite comes by eating.   In other words, even if you aren't feeling hungry, just by eating something tasty your appetite will increase and you will want to eat!


2.  In Italy, the main meal of the day is at lunchtime.  The word for 'the lunch ' is il pranzo.  On the table there will be il pane - bread, l'acqua - water, il vino - wine.

An Italian meal begins with l'antipasto: this is a selection of appetisers available on the table whilst you wait for the food to arrive, such as olives, cheese and salami, followed by -
il primo piatto (the first course) which is pasta or minestrone, then -
il secondo piatto (the main course) which can include carne (meat) or pesce (fish) with insalata (salad) or verdure (vegetables).

Next, there is la frutta (fruit) and / or  un dolce (a dessert).

Finally there is espresso coffee and perhaps un liquore - a liqueur.


3.  Before eating a meal, Italians say 'Buon appetito!' to each other.  This is wishing everyone a good appetite so that they will enjoy their meal.

4.  There are many types of Italian bread.  The most well-known ones are la focaccia and la ciabatta.   
The word ciabatta actually means 'slipper' because of its shape.  This is the bread used in hot sandwiches known as 'panini.'

In Italy, it is expected to eat with bread by dipping it into the food and any sauce on your plate.  To do this is called - fare la scarpetta.

5.  Italians only drink milky coffee, like il cappuccino and il caffellatte, first thing in the morning for breakfast.  It is served in a large cup called una scodella.

The word for 'the breakfast' is la prima colazione for which it is normal to dunk pastries and biscuits into the milky coffee.  You can also make a breakfast 'soup' - una zuppa - by crushing your biscuits into la scodella and eating the mashed mixture with a spoon. 

6.  At the end of a meal, or simply on its own, the coffee that is drunk is called espresso.  It is served in a very small cup called una tazzina.  An Italian coffee-making machine is called una caffettiera.   A cup of espresso coffee with a little bit of frothed milk on top is called il caffè macchiato - literally meaning 'stained coffee.'  It is 'stained' by the milk.


Above is a photo of il caffe macchiato and of una caffettiera moka which was an invention of Alfonso Bialetti in 1933.  This is the traditional Italian coffee-machine found in every Italian home!


7.   Italians eat many things that may be considered unusual in other countries, for example, snails, horse, donkey, goat, rabbit and hare, wild boar, sea urchin, sea snails, octopus, squid, peacock, ostrich.......and much more!   You can find out more about foods eaten in Italy in the Scary Restaurant!

There is an Italian saying:  Tutti i gusti sono gusti.   Literally, this means 'All tastes are tastes' therefore all tastes should be respected.

8.  Here are the names of some foods:

Trifle is called la zuppa inglese - literally, it means 'the English soup'.
Swiss roll is il salame farcito -  literally, it means 'the stuffed sausage'.
Plain sponge cake is il pan di Spagna - it means 'the Spanish bread'.
Fruit salad is la macedonia di frutta.
Seafood is i frutti di mare - fruits of the sea.

The dessert called il tiramisù actually means the 'pick me up.' 
The Italian dish called il saltimbocca (slices of veal rolled up with ham and sage) actually means the 'jumps into mouth.'

9.  The pizza was invented in Naples during the 18th century.  Originally, it was just a dry, flat bread and was considered food for poor people.

During a tour of her country in 1889, Queen Margherita of Italy tried some of the flat bread.  She liked it so much that she ordered her chef to prepare various types of pizza for her.  He decided to make a pizza containing the three colours of the Italian flag with:
la mozzarella  (
il pomodoro / tomato  (
il basilico / basil (verde-green). 

He named the tricolour pizza in her honour - la pizza Margherita.   It became one of her favourite foods and nowadays it is enjoyed all over the world!

Below: la Regina Margherita - Queen Margherita

Margherita Pizza

Mi piace la pizza!