To Italians, food is essential to daily life in so many ways. It is not just about sustenance; it’s a passionate expression of love. Food is a central concept to family life, and Italians take food and eating extremely seriously; it’s a very deep topic for us. To put it simply, food defines the Italian culture; the two concepts are inseparable. As you may imagine, as a product of my culture, I am highly influenced by my love of Italian food and the importance of family meals.
If you know anyone who is Italian, you are probably aware of the Sunday lunch feasts that occur with ritualistic reverence. It is a day spent around flowing conversations, revolving courses that start and end with togetherness, and they include antipasti, pasta, soup, meat, side dishes, dessert, fruit, coffee, and aperitifs. Very few Italians eat out on Sundays; the concept of Sunday is saved and savored, for and with family.
Throughout Italy, the cuisine varies as much as the landscape. You can literally eat your way through the country and experience a wide array of feasts. From the mountainous North where hearty cuisine prevails, to the balmy Southern, seafood-rich coastal regions, the food is diverse and amazing. Food is taken so seriously in all of Italy that people rarely even dabble in cooking cuisines outside of their native regions; these dishes are a part of our heritage.
If you have yet to experience an Italian Sunday lunch, the mood is relaxed and the time stands still; you can expect to take your time savoring courses through the hours, and getting extremely full on some of the best foods of your life. For Italians, this is often an all-day affair, even in today’s fast-paced, nonstop world. All of the family is expected to be present, and the “lunch” serves as a weekly occasion of family bonding. Food is part of the cultural essence that bonds us, and it also gives us an immense connection to one another that few other things in life offer. It is truly part of the Italian identity!