About eating

Fact no. 3.

More of a cultural observation than a “fact” but amusing (and true) all the same…

Consider the humble cappuccino. After ten o’clock in the morning, it is unethical, and possibly even unlawful, to order one. You wouldn’t have one in the afternoon unless the weather was very cold. Needless to say, sipping a cappuccino after a meal is something only non-Italians do. Pizzas at midday are for schoolkids. Rice with meat is perfect, but pasta with meat is embarrassing unless it’s cooked in the sauce. Having a starter after your pasta raises no eyebrows, but eating a main meat dish or fish dish instead of a starter looks greedy. Grating Parmesan cheese over clams is an offense against religion, but if a young chef suggests it, express approval. Wine in flasks is for tourists–package tourists if the flask is hanging on the wall. Finally, there is garlic. Like elegance, garlic should be present but not intrude. The bruschetta garlic toast served in some Italian restaurants abroad would be actionable in Italy.

Once an English friend called this sort of thing “food fascism.” I told her she was exaggerating. She had ordered a cappuccino after her evening meal, and the waiter refrained from calling the police.

— From La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind by Beppe Severgnini

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