An Italian dinner is ridiculous; I had my first (light) taste of one last night. After somehow finding my way to my hostel in Venice, I decided to try to look for something to do, so I set out alone through the dark, empty maze of zigzagging walkways and corridors that could only loosely be defined as streets. I grabbed a glass of wine and randomly started chatting with a group of Italians. After a few drinks, they guided me to a random restaurant where we all sat down and had a small (large by my standards) Italian dinner.
We skipped aperitifs—the traditional Italian pre-drinking plus light snacks—presumably because we had previously been drinking at a random place next to some bridge. However, wine seemed to flow again shortly after we sat down at the table.
We each ordered a single main course. I was told that a traditional Italian dinner consists of 2-3 appetizers and 2-3 main courses. And, in Italy, it’s considered rude if you don’t finish your food, so everyone ends up eating far past the point where they are full. My new Italian friends informed me that I should avoid Italian grandmothers—they are the worst offenders—because they will make you eat and you will want to die. Then they will make you eat some more. This is good information.
After dinner comes dessert, and then coffee. Seems normal enough.
What didn’t seem normal enough is that, after the coffee is done, it’s traditional to take a shot (yes, of alcohol) to “help digestion,” which really just sounds like an excuse to take a shot. They ordered a dark looking, Asian grass jelly syrup (but slightly more bitter) tasting drink for me called a Montenegro for me. It was actually surprisingly good, but also quite strong. This after-dinner, after-coffee drink is called ammazzacaffè, meaning “coffee killer.”
We followed up that drink with another drink of a sweet, radioactive yellow-colored, lemon-flavored shot called Limoncello. I enjoyed this one a lot.
The entire (light) dinner took about three hours. However, I learned that my new Italian friends love American TV, the history of food, and are all self-described alcoholics. It was a really entertaining evening and I had a ton of fun! So much fun that I never took photos.
Up next, I apparently have to try the famous drink of Venice called the “spritz.”