Friday, September 6, 2019

The Italian Art of Aperitivo and a Recipe!

We are getting ready to visit northern Italy and it got me thinking about that lovely afternoon time in Italy called “aperitivo.”

Aperitivo means a beverage (usually alcoholic) consumed prior to a meal, used to stimulate the appetite. Italians have perfected the art of the aperitivo. In Italy (and other European countries) people traditionally eat dinner very late (compared to the US), generally sometime between 8 and 10pm, and they need a little something to hold them over between lunch and dinner. But it’s more than that - it’s the concept of gathering at the end of the day for a drink, a snack and connecting with friends in a social setting. In Italy, it's a way of life - slow down, visit, eat, drink, breathe. 

So between 4 and 7pm, Italians will get together in cafes for an Aperol spritz, a glass of wine, Prosecco, or a birra. The cafes offer complementary snacks, ranging anywhere from dishes of briny olives, hearty cheeses, crunchy crostini, salted almonds, or crisp potato chips, to full-blown buffets with pasta, seafood, roasted vegetables, and small desserts. The idea is not to make this your dinner, but while in Florence many years ago, we found a cafe offering such a huge spread that we couldn’t eat dinner that night! 
Chickpeas ready for roasting.
The other day I decided I needed a bit of that magical aperitivo hour in my own home. I happened upon this recipe from Minimalist Baker for crunchy chickpeas and found them to be the perfect pre-dinner snack - light, crunchy, salty, in addition to easy and quick to prepare (they are also great thrown in salads or soups). I poured a glass of a lovely red from Portugal, set out the chickpeas, and relaxed for a few minutes before starting dinner.