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Italian Sunday Lunch

According to a recent survey carried out by the Academy of Italian Cuisine, it turns out that even in family oriented Italy, the popularity of the traditional Sunday lunch is starting to diminish.

The results of the survey indicate that Italians seem to be finding less and less time for the pleasures of cooking.  Actually, this comes as no great surprise to me, living as I do, in the midst of northern Italy’s brunch zone.

While Italians are not really turning to en masse to fast food, they are not cooking as much as they once did.  As a matter of interest, the reduction in the number of people cooking in the US has led to obesity becoming a big problem, and the UK government has recently introduced legislation obliging high school pupils to take cooking lessons.  So far, even if obesity has not yet become a great problem in Italy, eating habits are changing, and this week’s Food and Wine Friday feature first takes a look at how formerly food obsessed Italy is beginning to succumb to modern ways.

Then, for the curious there is what is on typical Italian Sunday lunchtime menus.

Sunday Lunch is Still Popular with Italians

Nouvelle cuisine, happy hour, finger food, fast food, brunches, and other food fads, even if they are growing more popular in the more northern European-like north of Italy, have not yet managed to take over from the traditional Sunday lunch.  Not quite.

Up here in the north, according to a recent survey undertaken by Italy’s Centro Studi dell’Accademia Italiana della Cucina – The Study Centre of Academy of Italian Cuisine – down in the traditional south of Italy, 73% of families consider Sunday lunchtimes an essential family occasion, while in central Italy the figure is 61%. However, only 51% of Italy’s brunch loving north think  Sunday lunch is still a significant family event.

Believing that Sunday lunch is a tradition worthy of respect is one thing, actually going through the motions is another.  In the south of Italy 6 Italians out of 10 sit down to Sunday lunch, as against 50% in central Italy, but only 45% of northern Italian families unite around their tables at lunchtimes on Sundays.

So, what exactly do Italians find on their Sunday lunch menus?  Well, the menus are extensive and vary from the north to the south.  Those from the south and centre of Italy who find themselves up north will most likely respect the menus from their zones of origin.

What follows is a list of what many Italians eat on Sundays:

What Italians Eat at Sunday Lunchtimes

North Western Italy’s Menu

Starter: tonno di coniglio – a rabbit stew (no idea what the ‘tonno’ part of the name has got to do with dish!), vitello tonnato – veal in tuna and mayonnaise sauce, battuta di carne cruda – raw meat – chopped and seasoned, often with Parmesan cheese, insalata russa – a mayonnaise based dish with carrots, peas and potatoes

First Course: agnolotti pasta and ravioli

Second Course: bolliti misti – boiled meats, brasato – braised beef and arrosto di manzo – roast beef

Vegetables: carote – carrots and finocchi al burro – buttered fennel

Dessert: torta di mele, apple tart (not like apple pie, more apple cake) panna cotta

North Eastern Italy’s Menu

Starter: soppressa – salami and formaggi – cheeses

First Course: tortellini in stock, risotto al radicchio – chicory risotto

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Second Course: coniglio – rabbit and vitello arrosto – roast veal (probably cooked under salt)

Vegetables: composta di verdure cotte – mixed cooked vegetables,  patate al forno – roast potatoes

Dessert: crostata – a sort of jam or fruit tart and zuppa inglese – an Italian version of English trifle

Central Italy’s Menu

Italian Salumi misti

Starter: crostini – croutons and salumi misti – selection of salami and cooked and smoked hams

First Course: pasta al forno – oven cooked pasta and pasta al ragù – pasta with ragu

Secondi: arista di maiale – roast pork and pollo arrosto – roast chicken

Vegetables: piselli – peas and patate al forno – roast potatoes

Dessert: biscottini – biscuits and tiramisù

Southern Italy’s Menu

Starter: prosciutto e melone – smoked ham and melon , salame – salami and formaggi – cheeses

First Course: linguine di mare, pasta al forno –

Second Course: agnello – lamb and polpettone – meatballs

Vegetables: insalata mista – salad, peperoni al forno – roast peppers

Dessert: pasticcini – small cakes, babà – rum baba

There, now you know what ends up on many, but certainly not all, Italian tables for Sunday lunch!

Link to the English language section of: The Academy of Italian Cuisine web site.

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