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A Grand Italian Lunch Experience
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Even until a fortnight ago, I used to think that all that Italian dishes comprised of was pizza, pasta and a few varieties of lasagna. In fact, when we were planning to spend the holidays in Italy, I was pretty much apprehensive about the rather limited (or so I thought!) food options, in that otherwise beautiful country. The vacation, however, changed my views on the range of Italian delicacies thoroughly. Not only did I find a wide selection of yummy items to choose from while lunching, but all the items offered a heady mix of rich taste and hygiene benefits as well. I would here share my experience about some of the preparations that I included in my lunch, when I was in Italy. If you are thinking about an Italian vacation anytime soon, you will surely find the following list of food items handy for reference:
• Antipasti – A proper Italian lunch would definitely start off with a delicious starter course. Popularly known as ‘antipasti’, these starters generally have soft, fresh bread, cheese, butter, eggs, and/or other vegetables, which can be used as toppings. My favorite was the traditional Italian Bruschetta – a preparation with grilled bread and tomatoes. You can also choose Bruschetta with olives, and have different types of pickles and sauces with it.
• Salads – While in Italy, I, for the first time, realized that salads can actually be prepared in so many ways, and with such varying assortment of ingredients! While the caprese salad (with mozzarella cheese) was the one that delighted my taste buds the most, I also made it a point to try out the more conventional cucumber salad and fresh tomato salad, which were often suggested by the local hotel waiters. If you are more in favor of having fried items as your appetizer, you can also go for the yummy fried cauliflower preparation, which also features prominently in the restaurant lunch menus.
• Pasta – Once you are done with the starters, it’s time for the main course of the meal. While I was pretty much accurate about the popularity of pastas as a traditional Italian lunch item, I was, frankly, taken aback by the sheer range in which they were available. The one that I simply loved was the Artichoke pasta, which had a lip-smacking mix of grated cheese, basil leaves, properly watered and fresh artichoke hearts, and garlic. Among the non-vegetarian pasta varieties, I really liked the veritable Garlic Shrimp pasta (I do have a distinct weakness for prawns!). I would also recommend the healthy and tasty baked ziti, and the spaghetti sauces, which go well with the pasta.
• Lasagna – Lasagna was yet another Italian dish, which I only briefly knew about. While in the country, I tried out, and loved, the varying tastes of the different lasagna types. If you are a veggie, the Cheese lasagna would be a great choice as a main course item. On a more personal note, I was absolutely bowled over by the taste of the fresh meat lasagna.
• Pizza – Over the passage of time, Italian food has become almost synonymous to different types of pizzas. My experience with pizzas during the vacation was also of the highest order. I tried out the various types of chicken pizzas, with extra cheese toppings, and other tasty vegetable ingredients. A wide range of options was also available, when I was choosing the bread crust.
• Side dishes – When in Italy, you can really pamper your taste buds (just like I did!), with different types of equally tasty side dishes. I often used to order meatballs and sausages, to go with my pasta. Pork chops and roast lambs can also be opted for, by those who prefer more crunchy side dishes. Of course, I made it a point to try the traditional Italian Chicken parmesan preparation, and discovered precisely why it is held in such high regard among food connoisseurs.
• Dessert – No hearty lunch can be complete without well-chosen dessert items, right? While in Italy, I got plenty of opportunities to experiment in this regard as well. The famous Italian Tiramisu ranked right among the tastiest desserts that I had ever tried out, while the Risotto cheesecake also left me craving for more. You can also select from a range of cookies, as a light dessert snack.
Italian food is typically wholesome and filling, without being too heavy, and hence, difficult to digest. There are plenty of options for both vegetarians as well as non-vegetarians, so that there is no reason for you to feel restricted while choosing your lunch menu, whatever your gastronomic inclinations might be. Try to include different healthy and really tasty items in your lunch. You will simply fall in love with the food of the land!
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