How to Order Italian Style

I’m adjusting to the Italian life. During my visit to Catania yesterday, I remembered the first lesson in snacking at a bar. The first lesson was to go inside the bar attached to the outdoor tables in the Piazza del Duomo ( and request a table, which I did in Italian! (Remember here, a “bar” is a cafe, and you need to check in with the host before claiming your outdoor table). However, I quickly slipped away from emulating Italians and gave in to my first instinct. My first instinct was to order everything I wanted right away, and it all came out at the same time.

It all came at the same time, but I couldn’t eat it all at the same time. So, naturally, I started with the arancino. As you can see, an arancino is a fried rice ball, stuffed with some yummy filling. You might not be able to see the accompanying breadcrumbs on the outside crust. This one had tomato and eggplant inside and it was good and filling without being rich and heavy. This surprised me a little since it was fried.

After the arancino, I quickly downed my espresso, which was just warm enough to say it was still drinkable. Then, I turned to my granita. Ruh-roh. In the time it took me to get to the granita, it had already started to melt considerably. With the hot Sicilian sun, granita always melts before you finish it, and even moreso when I gave the melting a head start.

As I progressed through my lunch, I noticed that the Italians surrounding me ordered in bits and pieces. An espresso here, a pastry there, maybe another espresso to finish, or a bottle of water as an afterthought. In retrospect, I could easily have started with the arancino, then flagged down the server for the espresso, sipped and enjoyed that, and finally ordered the granita when I was ready for it. The good news is, I’m ready for next time! The better news is, the granita was still incredibly delicious and refreshing.



Filed under Adjusting, Food. Cibo.

11 responses to “How to Order Italian Style

  1. I really liked this! I’m an American in London and I visited Italy for the first time recently. Loved it! I enjoy learning all these little things about cultures, especially related to food. 🙂

  2. Zina

    It’s funny – when I read the post, I thought that if you ordered in increments, you’re really relying on good wait staff to attend to you and interact more with the wait staff than if you ordered your appetizer and entree together, and then later your dessert, if at all. American ordering may be for the impatient eater.

  3. love the idea of squeezing my mind grapes! this food looks fab, great post

  4. They so believe in the slow food tradition. It is about more than just the food.

    That rice ball looks A.Maz.Ing. Is that unique to Sicily?

    • Yes, arancini are a Sicilian specialty. Some are plainer than others, so it can be hit and miss. I want to find a recipe and play around with making them. This will have to wait until we get into our apartment and I have a full kitchen.

      I also had arancini at Dahlia Lounge in Seattle, where I worked before our move. And I feel certain we had them at Lombardinos, in Madison WI, where I worked from 2001-2005. Nothing prepares you for the authentic experience, though.

      • I will have to keep my eyes out for that. No great Italian restaurants where I live…just Olive Garden (ick). If you find a recipe that is close, do post! (I almost made a rhyme).

        • I will post when I try it. I think I have one in a file where I’ve stockpiled Italian recipes. I love seeing what other people do with the same ingredients and instructions, so I’ll look forward to what you come up with.

  5. We’ll have to do this together; I need to practice my Italian!

  6. Pingback: Sigonella Directory | The Cinquecento Project

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