Tag Archives: no ice cubes

Italian Food Rule – Wine or Water, Nothing Else

In thousands of kitchens across America there is a person standing in front of the open fridge calling out to those gathered around the dinner table: “I’ve got white wine, red wine, mango juice, beer, milk, Pellegrino, ice tea, Coke, 7-Up, a bottle of Bacardi Breezer Lemon, and, of course, cold tap water. What does each of you want to drink?”

Let’s ignore the fact that there is a bottle of red wine in the fridge and get right to the Italian Food Rule: Wine or Water, Nothing Else.

In the homes and good restaurants of Italy the only beverages served during lunch or dinner are wine (red, white, rosé or Prosecco) and water (frizzante (carbonated) or naturale (still/no gas). And remember that ice water (or iced wine) is a violation of another Italian Food Rule.

A bit of wine and a lot of sparkling water
A bit of wine and a lot of sparkling water

It does not matter how young or old an Italian is: it’s wine or water, only. Children sometimes have a splash of wine in their fizzy water. Even adults, on a hot day, might opt for this refreshing combo using an inexpensive Chianti and a glass of ice-free acqua frizzante. This is not the sweet wine cooler found on picnic tables on the 4th of July. It is a sugar-free slightly flavored glass of water. (I still wince a bit when I remember watching an American woman at a wine tasting in Tuscany adding Sprite to her glass of Chianti Classico Riserva.)

Water with gas and no ice
Water with gas and no ice

For children and adults, alike, milk is not an option (see the Italian Food Rule on drinks such as caffelatte and cappuccino). Any Italian mother can tell you how milk interferes with a person’s digestion.

Italians never drink coffee with food during a meal. It is sipped from tiny espresso cups after the last bite is swallowed. Don’t try to tempt an Italian with an extra morsel after the espresso is served. (It’s sort of the same as offering an American a cookie after they’ve brushed their teeth.) Also, coffee is never drunk throughout the meal in Italy because it too interferes with digestion – in an acidic way, rather than a curdling way – any Italian grandmother will tell you. However, the same nonna will also tell you that that shot of espresso at the end of the meal aids in digestion.

Juices, sodas, cocktails, and even sugarless ice tea all interfere with the flavor of the food. To savor the true taste of each ingredient is of utmost importance to Italians as well as those who truly love Italian cooking. The only beverages that compliment Italian cuisine are wine and water.

A half liter of wine is perfect for two
A half liter of wine is perfect for two

“But what about beer?” you might ask. Until recently, Italy did not have a rich beer tradition, but Peroni and Moretti have been around since the middle of the 1800s. Italians drink beer with pizza. This does not violate the Italian Food Rule: Wine or Water, Nothing Else, because pizza is not a meal. Pizza is … well … pizza. Neither wine nor water compliment pizza as well as beer does. Kids and teenagers celebrate the lifting of the “no sodas” ban on pizza nights.

Then the next day it’s back to wine or water, nothing else.

Italian Food Rules: The BookItalian Food Rules by Ann Reavis is available now. You can buy Italian Food Rules by using these links:

Amazon. com (U.S.) eBook for Kindle & Kindle Apps

Amazon. com (U.S.) paperback

Amazon.co.uk (United Kingdom)

Amazon.it (Italy)

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Barnes & Noble (U.S.) eBook for Nook

Italian Food Rules – No Ice Cubes in Beverages

Florentine Francesca and I are in a New York restaurant where “Hi! I’m Sam, your waiter” is assisting us to have the best lunch experience possible. This includes large glasses of iced water that arrive immediately on the table with a large basket of warm bread. Francesca immediately starts scooping out the cubes into the empty wine glass. “Hi! I’m Sam” arrives to take our order and notices her he half full glass of iceless water. He leaves and returns with the water pitcher, which he turns sideways so that it dispenses the maximum amount of ice and a lesser amount of water. Duty done, he grins, “Now, what sounds good to you ladies, today?”

ice-cubes-floating-in-a-glass-of-water_medium

Confession: I have more ice cube trays in my freezer in Florence than anyone else in town. When May rolls around, I put away the hot tea and declare ice tea season officially open. I go through two trays a day. For over ten years I have felt ice-deprived in the restaurants and at the family tables of Italy.

http://purplecook.blogspot.it/Why?

Italian Food Rule: No ice cubes in beverages.

Ice in Italy is to keep fresh fish fresh. Full stop.

The most common reason Florentines (including Francesca) give me for the rule is that icy cold liquids are bad for your digestion. They can even cause the dreaded congestione – an abdominal cramp – that can kill you. (Florentines worry a lot about digestion.)

The next frequently cited reason is a fear of the tap water used for making ice. Despite the fact that Italy has very safe tap water – not always the best tasting, but safe to drink in any form – the consumption of bottled water (at room temperature) in Italy is one of the highest in Europe.

Mayor Renzi has joined other mayors in Tuscany in trying to cut down on the glass and plastic garbage and energy costs of bottled water by offer free acqua del sindaco, the mayor’s water, at various water stations (with both fizzy and still water) around the city. (Check behind Neptune’s tush on the side of the Palazzo Vecchio.) Of course, Mayor Renzi is not promoting the use of free tap water for making ice because I am sure he agrees with the Italian Food Rule: No ice cubes in beverages.

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No hotel in Italy will have an ice machine in the hall and few will bring ice to the room. This may be for the reasons stated above or because ice machine suck a lot of very expensive electricity and are breeding grounds of all sorts of molds, fungi, and bacteria – all, unfortunately, good and verifiable reasons to follow the Italian Food Rule: No ice cubes in beverages.

Italy is a land of simple drinks – wine, beer and water (frizzante or naturale) – all which are drunk just fine without ice. There is not a big cocktail tradition, but in a bow to the rest of the world you will frequently find three tiny cubes of ice floating in your Negroni, never four, of course.

When visiting Italy in July and August, try following the Italian Food Rule: No ice cubes in beverages. You may find that you can actually taste what you are drinking. You may also find that you will be forced to take a break from those sugary sodas that taste disgusting without ice and you will embrace the entire Mediterranean diet, even the beverages.

But don’t look at me for a good example of how to “live Italian” by following all of the Italian Food Rules. I have more ice cube trays in my freezer than anyone else in Florence.

Italian Food Rules by Ann Reavis is available now. You can buy Italian Food Rules by using these links:

Italian Food Rules: The Book

Amazon. com (U.S.) eBook for Kindle & Kindle Apps

Amazon. com (U.S.) paperback

Amazon.co.uk (United Kingdom)

Amazon.it (Italy)

Amazon.de (Germany)

Amazon.fr (France)

Barnes & Noble (U.S.) eBook for Nook