Lunch in southern Italy is nothing short of a revelation. Unlike those of us in America, most Italians in the south get three hours off for lunch and it is an event everyday. School closes in time for the kids to go home and eat with their families. Stores close, even the supermarket. They won’t be open again until 5 or 6 in the evening. Everyone has to spend quality time with their family, take a rest (people even nap from 3 to 5), and mangia, mangia. As an American, I’m still shocked to see the locks on all the stores starting at 1 in the afternoon.
While I’m used to scarfing down a sandwich while sitting at my computer working during the lunch hour (how very American of me), the meal in Italy often consists of a “primo” and a “secondo,” which refers to a first and second plate. The primo is either soup, risotto, or more likely pasta of some sort. The second is either a fish or meat with a couple of side dishes (often a mixed, green salad and another vegetable). Many Italians finish off their meal with a piece of fruit that they chase with an espresso.
For special occasions, such as holidays, you’ll have antipasto (appetizers) before the primo and a dessert after the secondo. Recently, my husband, Baby Boy, and I went out to eat at Ischia Porto’s Baia del Clipper restaurant. There, we had antipasto of smoked swordfish and salmon, shrimp in a light lemon sauce, octopus salad (my favorite), and seaweed zeppoles. Then, we had linguine with mussels and clams. Our secondo was the baked fish in acqua pazza that you see above. Yes, it does translate to crazy water. And, yes, even the names of food are cool in the Boot.
Of course, we intended to stop there. But we passed by Bar de Maio, and its fior di latte gelato was calling our name. So, we picked up some fior di latte, vanilla, and Kinder cereal ice cream for the whole family – all 13 in-laws back home – and called it a day. Well, not until after we finished off that kilo of ice cream with the help of our loved ones, of course.