The Origins of Antipasti

At Diforti, family, tradition and heritage are extremely important to us. For four generations we have been bringing the authentic taste of Sicily to satisfied customers across the UK – so understanding where our food comes from, and its legacy, is very important to us.

The tradition of Italian mealtime is, by now, world famous. Although the full seven course feast is nowadays only observed at festivities; the classic order of aperitivo, antipasto, primo, secondo, contorno, insalata, formaggi e frutta, dolce, café and digestivo; still stirs the imagination and gets the taste buds tingling across the globe.

Without a doubt, the course that speaks for Italian cuisine most, is antipasti. While pasta and risotto may have reached almost ubiquitous popularity around the world – it’s antipasti that gives you the first taste of the vegetables, meats and cheeses that bring those dishes to life. Antipasti helps us hark back to a less hurried time; one where meals were lengthy, relaxing affairs, and if your party simply wanted a fresh and healthy snack as they relaxed with a bottle of wine – plate after plate could be picked at and enjoyed.

What Does Antipasti Mean?

The literal translation is ‘before the meal’ – not ‘before the pasta’ as you might assume! Coming from the latin ‘ante’– for before, and ‘pastus’ – for food; it’s the Italian version of hors d’oeurves.

Often comprised of a colourful dish filled with different bites of cured meat, cheese, seafood and marinated vegetables, the rich flavours and bite-sized morsels of food make it perfect precursor to any meal.

The History of Antipasti

 The first references to antipasti were made way back in medieval Italy; although its composite parts were no doubt enjoyed long before that.

Usually served at room temperature, these little dishes are supposed to excite the diners before the meal. Delicious morsels that will not only awaken the appetite and ready the stomach for the meal to come – but also allow guests to pick and talk, slowing down the hurried pace of a shared meal.

Regional Variations

We might be slightly biased towards the produce of Sicily, but each of the different regions of Italy has different flavours and produce to savour! Influenced by differing climates and influences, traditions and customs – the antipasti you enjoy will all have a distinctive regional taste.

Northern Italy – Close to the Alps and also to the warmer Mediterranean seas, there’s a certain German influence in northern Italian antipasto elements. Think buttery cheeses like gorgonzola (named for the village of its origin); sweet and crunchy balsamic onions and slices of finely hashed mortadella. The cured meats are a particular speciality, with prosciutto de Parma being widely regarded as the most delicious available.

Central Italy – Hard pecorino romano from Rome, bruschetta from Florence, and rich, colourful pomodorini ripieni characterise the types of antipasto you might find in the central region of Italy.

Southern Italy – One of southern Italy’s tastiest creations is delicious burrata, a creamy cheese made from mozzarella and cream. And, mozzarella of course, a Specialità Tradizionale Garantita made from the milk of buffalos. Because of the beautifully warm climate, the olives in this region are widely regarded as the best.

Sicily – Sicily combines the perfect climate of southern Italy, fertile land, the culinary influences of the mainland, plus the fresh seafood of the island’s coast. Raisins, sweet garlic, capers, aubergine, artichoke and herbs all enrich this colourful cuisine – and we bring you some of its most flavourful dishes.

So you see, our commitment to honouring the Italian tradition of lingering over your courses is about more than simply bringing you delicious food – it’s about giving you a taste of the laid-back Mediterranean lifestyle. We believe that flavours are meant to be savoured

– but with the bustle of modern life, sometimes you need a reason to stop and take your time. Our cuisine is that reason – and it’s infused with the passion of four generations of Italian tradition.

 

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