Italy is known for it's very late meals - lunch is about 1.30pm (earliest!) and dinner depends on the season - it can be as late at 11pm!
One of the reasons for such late dinners, is so that the members of the family can wait for each other to come back from work and sit down at the table all together. In Italy, lunch and dinner are moments of reunion for all the family. It's a time to relax and share the stories of the day.
The biggest meal of the week is "il pranzo della domenica" (Sunday lunch), which is a very late lunch "at home" with the reunion of nonni, zii e cugini (grannies, uncles, aunties and cousins). Only about 5% of the Italian population go out for lunch. This is a bit different from the tradition of a Sunday roast in England, where people like to go out and eat with friends and family.
The Italian Sunday lunch starts at about 2pm and finishes around 4-5pm. We use this time to cook our favourite traditional family dishes, which vary from region to region. We like to think about this day as a day for keeping the traditions alive, with a menu based on the same dishes that our grandmothers use to cook around 60 years ago.
Now, the important bit. English people always ask - what about all the carbs though?!
In Italy we eat SO much pasta... and to the people that say it just isn't good to eat pasta that often, well the answer is - that's not true! You can eat pasta often only if you do it in the right way. As long as you match your pasta with a combination of fruit and vegetables, you'll get all the nutrients necessary for the body. We prefer to use seasonal vegetables, with a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to season and a sprinkle of cheese!
Cooking pasta "al dente" ("with a bit of bite") is important too, it makes the pasta easier to digest and it will make you feel fuller for longer. Overcooked pasta causes the starch from the pasta to release into the cooking water and means you lose the nutritional properties, while undercooked pasta is raw and indigestible.
So, the lesson of the day - pasta can be healthy but remember, always cook AL DENTE!
For pasta inspiration, head over our recipe page.