ITALY: It has been a hard day in your office and having finished work you are ready to wind down. But you feel a tiny bit hungry and look for some exquisite food and drinks to re-energise you. So what are the options?
You buy a soft drink along with some nibbles to satiate your hunger, or sometimes you go back home and request your better half to make some sandwiches with coffee. Also at times, along with a colleague you can head for a small eatery on the way back and chill with a drink and some eatables.
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In Italy where food is a celebration, this is what they call Aperitivo. This early evening drink and snack, i.e. the Aperitivo is meant to whets one’s appetite by opening the stomach for the grand dinner; the idea being that the drink opens (or stimulates) your appetite.
Italians can romanticise anything, and this includes drinks and food too. They believe that an aperitivo is the perfect prelude to a rich meal in the late evening hours as your gastric juices start flowing by indulging in a pre-dinner drink with snacks. Hence, an aperitivo is defined as a pre-dinner sipping and snacking ritual intended to stimulate appetite and encourage digestion. Aperitivo also is a precious moment to slow down and enjoy face time sans smartphones.
The word “Aperitivo” has origins in Latin; meaning “to open”, as something that literally “opens your stomach” and was born in the late 18th century when Antonio Benedetto Carpano created the first aperitivo drink; Vermut (better known as Vermouth), and herb-flavored white wine that is served as a pre-meal drink.
It initially was just beverages one had with his/her friends or colleagues as they headed home from work. But they think it’s not good just to have drinks on empty stomach, so an Aperitivo today is always accompanied by some delis. Earlier it used to just drinking an aperitivo and nibbling on olives, chips or crackers, but today, by aperitivo it means a more complex snack with crostini, cold cuts, cheese, bruschetta, and other food spread like different types of fresh pasta, grilled or sautéed vegetables, and sandwiches.
An Aperitivo is a must-do when in Italy. It’s like going out for Tapas as they do in Spain, or enjoying Happy Hour as they do it in the U.S.A.
But what do you do when you are not in Italy? Don’t worry guys; there are plenty of Italian Ristorantes all over the world. And there are plenty of options in Delhi and elsewhere in India too, where you can go and indulge in Aperitivo and also in other delicious Italian food and desserts.
One can start with crisp pieces of bread served along with a Platter of mixed Italian cheese, Formaggi Assortiti, and then start the culinary journey with exotic aperitivos and drinks.
Vegetarians can try Rucola e Fior di Latte (crusty bread base i.e. Crostini served with Rucola and soft cheese toppings), Funghi e Formaggi (Mushroom and cheese crostini), and Gran Crostone (Gran crostone with grilled vegetables).
Chicken/meat eaters don’t lose heart, there are some amazing aperitivos in the non-veg section too like the Pate di Fegatini (chicken), Tannato e Caperi (tuna n Chicken), Gamberetti Salsa Rosa (Shrimp), Salmone e Avocado (Salmon and Avocado).
And as the night approaches, you can continue your Italian journey with some delicious portions of pasta and Risotto, and authentic desserts, namely Tiramisu, etc. and finish your sinful journey into the amazing world of a true Italian Gastronomy as you finish your last bite of the desserts. This experience will certainly leave you wanting more n more.