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Melania

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  1. Ah, a good cup of coffee- something that many cannot start their day without. In Italy it is a staple and perhaps coffee's spiritual home. When drinking coffee in Italy, it is very different to other countries. The whole experience is filled with mysterious unwritten rules that somehow every Italian is born knowing. Craving a cappuccino? Better check the time. Traditionally, any kind of milky coffees like lattes or cappuccinos are not ordered past 11 a.m. Italians consider this to be a breakfast drink, because milk. Yes, milk. Italians believe that milk plays a major role in digestion. Having too much milk later in the day or even after a meal is a strict taboo. No one likes an upset stomach! If you're in Italy make sure to head to the nearest coffee shop early and order your cappuccino with a fresh pastry...or two. It's past 11 a.m, you've seen the Trevi Fountain and stood in line to get into the Colosseum and you're craving a caffeine boost. It is time for an espresso, which Italians call a caffè (I know, its confusing). A caffè is had after a meal and comes in the tiniest of cups. It is taken in one shot if you're in a rush or sipped slowly if you're not (I mean it looks ridiculous to sip it - the cup is so small). You'll see many Italian business people taking shots of coffee during their lunch hour, do not be intimidated, a caffè can be enjoyed by everyone! When you're ordering you can ask for "un caffè per favore" or if you would like a dash of milk "un caffe machiatto per favore" is also acceptable. A coffee is also enjoyed after dinner, but sometimes with a twist. This type of coffee is called a "caffè coretto", which is an espresso shot mixed with an Italian spirit such as Grappa. They are small in size, but pack a punch! The caffè coretto makes you feel relaxed, but also gives you a bit of a buzz. It is common for young Italians to have a caffè coretto before a night out or even as a nightcap after the party. Either way, it makes for the perfect beverage before an evening stroll on a cold winter's evening. When ordering a caffè coretto the waiter usually brings you the Grappa on the side for you to mix yourself. Definitely sip this one! A caffè coretto goes well with a tiramisu, or on warmer evenings, stop for a gelato.
  2. @TicTac Florence is one of my favorite towns too! Here are some photos (some are in the winter months)
  3. Thanks for the warm welcome! I'm excited to share some recipes. We are going into winter now, so I am making lots of soups and homemade breads! Will definitely share some traditional recipes.
  4. It's one o'clock on a warm summer's day in Florence, I'm on my way to get ingredients for lunch. The sun is high in the sky, the cobblestones are warm under my feet and the aroma of something delicious is in the air. My mind starts to drift to the onions, celery and tomatoes I need for my pasta sauce, oh and don't forget something sweet for dessert...this truly is la dolce vita. My thoughts are soon interrupted by an unwelcome "chiuso" sign on the door of my new favorite deli. The blinds are closed and the friendly owners are nowhere in sight. The reality of having my favorite pasta dish for lunch was slipping further and further away. What a nightmare! How can this be? A local passing by must have noticed my frustration. "Signorina, è riposo. Tutto è chiuso!" Of course! How could I forget about the sacred Italian siesta? A siesta or riposo, as most Italians call it, is a time of rest. This time is usually around midday, or the hottest part of the day (very inconvenient if you're craving a bowl of pasta.) No one can really say where the tradition of the siesta originates, but many say it's all about food (no surprises there really). For many Italian families the main meal of the day is lunch. This heavy meal in the middle of the day is attributed to the standard Mediterranean diet: A minuscule breakfast of a coffee and pastry , a heavy lunch and an evening meal around 10 o'clock. The logic is that after such a heavy meal one would surely be drowsy and need to rest, no one can work efficiently on a full stomach! Post offices, car rentals, supermarkets and even coffee shops (in some smaller towns police stations too) all close their doors for a riposo. Everything comes to a standstill as every Italian goes home to kick of their shoes, enjoy a homemade lunch with family and bask in the Italian sunshine for three to four hours. This is serious business. One would not dare work for 8 hours straight. After their riposo most businesses open again around 4 o'clock and stay open till 7pm. Its the perfect balance between work and play and does wonders for your digestive system! "Grazie!" I thanked her for the reminder. The midday sun started to become unbearable. The streets had cleared with only a few tourists braving the midday heat still around. I thought about the strawberries I bought from the market earlier that week. Strawberries for lunch on my shaded balcony and maybe a nap afterwards sounded like my perfect riposo. The pasta will have to wait till 4.
  5. Hi from South Africa! I own a business selling fresh pasta and pasta dishes in Cape Town. Looking forward to reading more about the food industry and seeing what's out there. I am also hoping to share some of my writing and opinions on food.
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