Learning the Value of Mealtime in Italy

By EL | ET Student

In the U.S. we’re always in a hurry, and the easiest place to shave off some time is at a meal. Our fanciest dinners, when we go out, last no more than an hour and a half. You can confidentially walk into a restaurant knowing you’ll be out in an hour. Even at home, sitting down to a family dinner doesn’t take more than a half hour — if a family dinner even happens. In the U.S., dinner is done by 6 p.m. and the rest of the evening is for productivity.

Erin's blog photo

After-dinner espresso. | Photo by EL

In Italy, it’s different. If you walk into a restaurant you can assume you’ll be there for at least two hours. Meals are served in several courses, then followed up by dessert and typically a digestive drink, such as grappa, and dinner is followed up with espresso. Meals are meant to stretch out and often don’t start before 8 p.m.

Initially, I got antsy about an hour into every meal and I certainly couldn’t finish all the food I was served. But the more meals I experienced during my time in Italy, the more I began to see the value in the time they took. I was forced to slow down, which was necessary with the pace at which the trip moved. I also found that I had more opportunity to connect with the people I was traveling with, which included my friend and both our mothers. I know that this could never really happen with the pace of life at home, but it was a refreshing experience, and one of the biggest differences I noticed between Italian and American culture. I’d say taking a little extra time at dinner is definitely something worth trying when I get home.

Categories: Arts & Culture

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