In Italy we tend to arrange our foods in categories, according to the role they have within a meal:
#Antipasti: small bits of pickled vegetables, fried vegetables cold cuts, marinated fish, toasted slices of bread with some kind of spread on (bruschetta), sometimes cheese. Antipasti are served only in very special meals like Christmas Lunch, New Year’s Eve, Easter Lunch. All these foods are often used for babysitting as well.
#Primi: soups, pasta, gnocchi, risotto, lasagna.
#Secondi: meat or fish, poultry, cheese, eggs.
#Contorni: that is a vegetable side like lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, potatoes.
#Piatti unici: single dishes, when you get a meat or fish main combined with pasta or bread or polenta and vegetables. What’s called ‘salad’ in English, it’s ‘insalatona’ in Italian: lettuce and other vegetables with cheese or tunafish or grilled chicken. The best example of a single dish is a rice salad. Most of the time the single dish is served cold and it’s a quick meal for working days.
#Frutta: at the end of an Italian home meal you always eat some fruit: apples, bananas, oranges.
#Dolce: desserts. It’s mostly a Sunday or special days treat. A typical summer one is the combination of a fruit salad with gelato (ice-cream).
– How many meals a day do the Italians have? Lunch and Dinner; breakfast isn’t considered a main meal.
– Do the Italians eat one serving of each category at every meal? No, they don’t. As already specified, appetizers and desserts are for special events. Contorni and frutta are usually in every italian meal while most of the people eat or 1 primo serving or 1 secondo serving.
– Do not they eat pasta every day, then? Actually they don’t, even if pasta and all the other ‘primo’ servings ( lasagna, gnocchi, …) are often served as they are easy to cook and pretty filling as well.
Have you any questions? Feel free to ask!