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5 More Italian Customs Americans Should Adopt

A few months ago, we published a post called “5 Italian Customs Americans Should Adopt,” that shared our favorite aspects of the Italian lifestyle. We were overwhelmed by how much you, our readers, enjoyed the post and incorporated many of the items on our list into your everyday lives.  Today, we thought we’d share a few more ideas about how Americans can live like Italians!

Thank you to our Mazzoni fans who shared their thoughts on how to live the Italian lifestyle after our last post. Some of you might see your ideas in the list below – take a look!

1. Wine CultureMZI_29

When it comes to wine, Italians know best.  Known internationally for producing some of the best wines in the world, Italy is home to many a wine lover.  While Americans often choose a great bottle of wine for special occasions or to celebrate, Italians are known to have a bottle on the table at nearly every meal.  Appreciated as an everyday delicacy to be enjoyed by all, wine is an essential part of life in Italy. And we’re not complaining…Salute!

2. La Famiglia

Italians are well-known for their love of family. In fact, many Italian children live at home until well into their 30s, or don’t leave their parents until they’re married! Italians understand that family is a reminder of where you’ve come from, and spending lots of time together is a way of life. Whether it’s Sunday pasta dinners at grandma’s house or taking a summer holiday together, there are plenty of ways Americans can adopt Italians’ love for la famiglia!

3. That’s Amore

Showing a great deal of affection is second nature to Italians. While Americans are often more reserved, Italians greet family and friends with two (or more!) kisses on the cheek, and are always quick with a hug or a “Ti amo.”  When meeting in bars or at a coffee shop, Italians are much more likely to say hello or even sit and converse with strangers. Of course, Italians also show their love by preparing delicious, multi-course meals for their loved ones. We think America could use a little more affection, and a lot more authentic Italian home cooking!

Piazza Navona in Rome (via Shutterstock)

Piazza Navona in Rome (via Shutterstock)

4. Love of the Arts

In any Italian city, it’s not hard to find art. Whether it’s the beautifully preserved historic architecture, the public museums and sculptures in piazzas, or the street performers and painters, art is everywhere.  Of course, like Americans, Italians also have an undying love for sports, especially soccer, but there’s a certain appreciation for the finer parts of culture in Italy.  Americans, take note – surround yourselves with art!

5. Travel Culture

If Italians know anything, it’s how to travel. Many take the entire month of August off for Ferragosto, or summer holiday. Many city shops and restaurants shut down, and Italians take to the beach or to a neighboring European country for a little rest and relaxation. Maybe that mental health break is what makes Italians so friendly! Trenitalia and Ryanair also allow tourists to travel within Italy and to other European countries quickly and inexpensively. Americans could benefit from a little extra summer vacation time to explore other states or our neighboring countries!

So what do you think? Can Americans benefit from living like an Italian? Anything you think we forgot? Let us know in the comments below!

How to Make Bruschetta Like an Italian

Bruschetta (Broo-SKET-ah), which are slices of toasted, rustic bread topped with simple ingredients, started out as a simple peasant snack for field workers, but today is an appetizer found in most Italian restaurants.

Trio The most famous version of bruschetta is topped with chopped tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper, and either fresh basil or a sprinkle of oregano. However, any crostini topped with meats, cheeses, beans, or other seasonal vegetables and herbs make endless possibilities that can satisfy all palates.

My trio of bruschetta appetizers utilizes the freshest ingredients found at the local farmers’ market. The colors and flavors can be combined to create many memorable toppings. When I am in Rome, I always go to Campo di Fiori to do my daily shopping for vegetables.

Farmer's market

I have made friends there and also in the United States at my local farmers’ market, and they can always tell me what is the freshest, or about some unique herb that can spark my imagination on how to incorporate it into a new recipe.

Tomatoes

My first bruschetta is the most famous, with fresh tomato, high-quality extra-virgin olive oil and oregano. It’s a crowd-pleaser that never lets you down.  The second is topped with thinly sliced Prosciutto de Parma, fontina cheese and melon, which is a play on sweet and savory. The final one is a combination of pickled eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes and Gorgonzola cheese, which has a slightly spicy kick from Southern Italy. This one is special because I pickle the eggplant and jar the sun-dried tomatoes with oil to release all of their delicious flavors.

With just a few ingredients, these starters will kickstart your palate and will be the beginning of a wonderful Italian dinner.

Buon Appetito!

Bruschetta Trio

Suggested Pairing: Mazzoni Pinot Grigio

Ingredients:

1 large baguette, or rustic Italian bread, sliced to 1/2-inch thick

1/4 pound of Prosciutto di Parma, thinly sliced

1 package small cherry tomatoes

1 small cantaloupe melon

1 package of micro greens

8 oz. fontina cheese, thinly sliced

8 oz. soft gorgonzola cheese

10 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

4 oz pickled eggplant

4 oz sun-dried tomatoes, packed in olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, cut in half

Procedure:

1. Cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters and place in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Add the finely chopped basil, cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator.

2. Cut the cantaloupe in half and discard the seeds. Use a melon-baller to make as many balls as needed.

3. Wrap each ball with a strip of prosciutto, set on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator.

4. Slice the fontina set on a plate cover and transfer to the refrigerator.

5. Chop the sun-dried tomatoes and pickled eggplant into very small pieces, crumble the gorgonzola cheese and mix all together. Set on a plate and transfer to the refrigerator.

6. Slice a baguette on the diagonal into 1/2-inch slices. Grill, or bake in the oven until they are slightly crisp, about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and rub with a garlic clove that has been cut in half.

7. Remove all the ingredients from the refrigerator and assemble the bruschetta right before you serve them.

FrancescoInfluenced by memories in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother, Italian-born Francesco Romano is the man behind the food blog, Coco de Mama.  He shares recipes and culinary knowledge with Mazzoni fans each month.

Become an Expert: The Essential Guide to Prestigious Italian White Wine

I love everything about Italy: the culture, landscape, people, places, industry (read bicycles and motorcycles), but especially the food and wine. I’m so lucky for the opportunities I’ve had throughout my several years in the wine industry. One of my favorites has to be the times I’ve attended Gambero Rosso’s annual event called “Tre Bicchieri”. For many years it’s been held only in New York and San Francisco, but our great city of Chicago was added six years ago and it has become a huge success. The three tastings are usually held in mid-February, with the winemakers traveling from city to city to attend, sharing their wines and wisdom. Read the rest of this page »

How to Make Pasta By Hand: Starting Simple

Cuzzetielle: as I was leafing through the pages of the Encyclopedia of Pasta by Oretta Zanini De Vita, the pretty name stopped me and made me read the details.

Zanini De Vita writes that this pasta shape is typical of Molise, the small southern Italian region sandwiched between Abruzzo and Puglia. She describes it as “rather open strascinati, whose curvature varies with the thickness of the pasta sheet.” It is made by dragging (trascinare) on a wooden board with two fingers a small rectangle of rolled dough. I couldn’t find a photo or image of cuzzetielle, so what you see here is my rendition based on the description I read.

Read the rest of this page »

6 Tips You Need to Know Before You Visit Italy

IMG_0695

1. Ditch the sweatpants. Long haul flights and cross-country train rides are no excuse for resorting to pajamas outside of the house. Treat a travel day as an opportunity to get started on your holiday style. If you are going to be stuck in a small space with strangers, make the best impression and embrace la bella figura. Read the rest of this page »

Traditional Italian Recipe: A Spinach Soufflé

Tortino

Some of my favorite parts of an Italian meal are the antipasti, or appetizers. Recently when I was in Rome, I went to one of my favorite traditional Roman restaurants and saw tortino di spinaci, or spinach soufflé, on the menu, so I ordered the rest of my meal to match the flavors of that amazing appetizer.

Tortino di Spinaci is too delicious to enjoy only once in a lifetime, so I knew right away that I’d have to come home and recreate this dish. Mama makes her soufflés with a delicious combination of spinach, gruyere and Parmigiano, which is how I made this recipe. Instead of serving it in the dish in which it was cooked, I pulled it out to show the delicious layers and colors, which is quite an impressive presentation to wow your guests. Read the rest of this page »

How to Eat Spaghetti Like an Italian

Spaghetti

It’s an age old dilemma; how does one eat spaghetti gracefully? Unless you plan on eating pasta with your hands or reenacting Lady and the Tramp, you might want to study up.

Managing the pasta can be a difficult process at first, but with some practice, you’ll be eating spaghetti like an Italian in no time. In our humble opinions, eating spaghetti is still easier than using chopsticks, so so you’ll be a pro before you know it!

Below are a few easy tips that will help you eat spaghetti politely and elegantly. Take a stab at it and let us know how it goes in the comments below! Read the rest of this page »

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