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What are the Courses in a Traditional Italian Dinner?

What are the Courses in a Traditional Italian Dinner

Enjoying Italian food is something which has never been more popular, with hundreds of restaurants across the country. With so much variety to choose from – not just including places to eat in Preston – it is possible for competition to select for authenticity, quality and innovation, resulting in restaurants that really reflect the experience of Italy in every dish!

One of the ways in which Italian restaurants are changing is to mirror the traditions and customs of Italy, with eateries like Mezzo Italian Restaurant in Preston offering their menus in the form of the traditional Italian three-course meal. But what are these courses?

Antipasto (starter)

Antipasto is the Italian term for the appetisers or starters – ordinarily served with considerable variety in one dish or platter to begin the meal. Antipasto is lighter than the ensuing courses and is usually served cold. Ordinarily, the antipasti platter consists of cured meats, olives, mushrooms, anchovies and other fish and seafood, a variety of light cheeses, vegetables and pickled meats. As you can see from the above list, the antipasti platter is usually completely devoid of carbohydrate-heavy foods like bread and pasta, as these are usually the parts of the meal which create the feeling of “fullness” and can spoil the appetite of the diners if taken with the starter.

As anyone who has ever “filled up on bread” by accident before their meal arrived at a restaurant can attest, a carb-heavy starter is not usually ideal! Since the main body of the meal is still on the way, the light, easy-to-eat antipasto course is the perfect appetiser – activating the stomach and invoking hunger, without satisfying it.

Pasta Course

The carbohydrates missing from the antipasto return in force here, with the much heavier and much more filling Pasta Course. With a range of available pasta styles and sauces, this course can include small amounts of meat, as in a carbonara, or can be completely vegetarian, as with an al Pomodoro or other meat-free dishes. The pasta course may also be served al Forno, in which it is incorporated into a dish and baked.

While delicious and satisfying, the problem with very carb-heavy courses, like this one, is that they often create a very temporary feeling of “fullness”, with a satisfaction that wears off in only a few hours, leaving diners hungry again. To counter this effect, the pasta course is followed immediately by the meat course.

Carne (Meat Course)

A hot meat course, the Carne course is the heaviest and richest of the courses, and provides the protein and fats needed to remain full for a long time, creating a lingering sense of satisfaction after the meal.

The meat course takes different forms across Italy, with different types of meat and different dishes being favoured in different regions. Dishes taking inspiration from the coast favour seafood and fish, while Carne courses inspired by the interior of the country often contain lamb, pork, turkey, chicken and beef, among other meats.

This meal plan has been used in Italy for hundreds of years, and has been important in the development of Italian cuisine. Since the food was developed in that structure, it makes perfect sense to enjoy the meals in the same framework – so many Italian restaurants are catching on to this plan, making their meals a richer, more authentic experience. Mezzo, one of the premier places to eat in Preston, is just one example!

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