Italians usually eat three meals a day. A light breakfast is often stopping at a coffee shop on their way to work for a caffellatte (coffee with milk) or cappuccino with bread, butter, and jam, or cake. In Italian latte, means milk. So ordering a “latte” in Italy will get you a glass of milk. Breakfast drinks of this kind have existed in Europe for generations, but the version of this drink that we know here in the US today is an American invention.
My grandfather, Angelo Colosi, always drank his coffee with half the cup filled with milk and the other half coffee. I always thought that was unusual, but now I understand that this was a common Italian practice.
Lunch and dinner are similar meals in Italy. They consist of an antipasto (an appetizer based on cold meats), a pasta or rice dish such as risotto, a main meat or fish course, a salad, and cheese and fruit. Lunch is the main meal of the day for many Italians and is eaten between noon and 2 P.M.
When I read about these lunch and dinner meals it made me things of two things. First, my mom used to love stopping at the Italian store and buying hard salami and bread. We wouldn’t even wait to get home; we’d sit in the car and eat it right on the spot. The other thing I thought about is that I’ve never been one for eating much, if any, breakfast, but I often find that I’m most hungry between noon and 2pm. Could it be the Italian blood running through my veins?
Whether eating at home or in a restaurant, Italians take food seriously. They prefer to dine in a leisurely fashion, savoring their meals over a bottle of wine and conversation. Wine and bread are always served during main meals. Even children are often allowed a taste of wine. Dinner in southern Italy was usually not served until after 7:30pm because of a long break usually taken during the hot part of the day.