Italian Table Manners
Have you ever wondered how to add some Italian table manners to your Italian meal? Whether you’re headed to Italy and want to be a good guest or just want to add a touch of authenticity to your meal, here are some good etiquette tips for Italian dining.
1. Don’t Wish People Buon Appetito
Many people think “buon appetito” simply means “Bon Appetit” in Italian, but it has a negative connotation. In medieval Italian courts, a prince would sometimes say buon appetito as a threat, hinting that the guests might not get to eat another meal.
2. Watch Your Hands
Place your hands up to your wrists on the table, but never place your elbows on the table. Never cross your hands and make sure they are visible. For most formal meals, do not use hands for eating.
3. Follow the Host’s Lead
Look at what the host, guest of honor or most important person at the table is doing and follow along so you don’t finish your meal far before or long after that person. Do not start to eat before others at the table have started eating.
4. Wait With Your Napkin
In much of Europe and North America, you place your napkin on your lap as soon as you are seated. In Italy, you only put the napkin on your lap once food begins to arrive. The napkin will catch anything that falls from your plate and can also be used to dab your mouth.
5. Use the Fish Knife
If your fish is served with a three-pronged fork and a knife that looks like a butter knife, use the knife to remove the skin of the fish. Use the fork to cut the fish and to eat it.
6. Don’t Cut Your Bread
In Italy, it’s traditional to break off a small bit of bread rather than cut it, but watch your portions. It’s easy to fill up on delicious Italian bread and not leave room for your main meal.
7. Don’t Cut Your Pasta
Don’t take a knife to your pasta or help yourself with a spoon. The right way to eat longer noodles is to scoop small amounts on your fork. This is one area of Italian cuisine where practice makes perfect!
8. Be Careful With the Cheese
In Italy, cheese is serious business, and there are many regional variations. Some chefs have specific rules about which cheeses go with what dish. Parmesan, for example, is rarely used and is never put on pizza. Cheese is not placed on any sauce with seafood. It’s hard to appreciate all the complex rules, so this is one area where it’s a good idea to follow the lead of other diners.
9. Keep Utensils Tidy
Your utensils will stay where they are placed until you need to use them. You’ll find knives on the right, a fork on the left and a fork and spoon at the top of the plate for dessert.
Ready to practice your Italian table manners? Reserve a table at Bricco, the beloved Harrisburg Italian and Mediterranean restaurant. Here, you can enjoy delicious Italian food in an elegant but relaxed atmosphere.
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