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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.
I found this article about arancino/arancina really interesting
I recently took a trip to Northern Italy, and was delighted to find that the cappuccino everywhere was just wonderful, without exception. Smooth, flavorful, aromatic perfect crema, strong but not too strong.
Aside from the obvious answer (duh, Italians created cappuccino ), what makes Italian capp so fantastic, and how do I duplicate the effect here?
I'm wondering if it's the water, the way the coffee is ground or stored, the machines used....I'm baffled.
Also noticed that the serving size tended to be smaller than what I'm used to -- i.e. a small teacupful vs. a brimming mug or Starbucks supersize. Not sure why that is either.
Grazie mille for any insight on this!
By Modernist Cuisine Team
The Modernist Cuisine team is currently traveling the globe to research pizza and different pizza styles for our next book Modernist Pizza. Nathan and the team will be in São Paulo and Buenos Aires soon. We'd love hear from the eGullet community—what pizzerias should they visit while they're there? You can read more about our next book Modernist Pizza here. Thanks in advance, everyone!
My article was published (my first one!)! Hooray! And I do have some Florentine restaurant recommendations including the new Osteria del Pavone which is amazing--lampredotto ravioli is now a thing and it must be tried.
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