It’s all about sharing a good time and great food with friends and family. The Old World really knows how to snack.
The French Apéritif
The French Apéritifs are before dinner drinks and appetizers to stimulate the appetite referred to as the “apéro”. It’s said to date as far back as the Medieval Ages. Certain alcoholic beverages were used for medical purposes like helping the digestion. Aperitif was modernized by a French chemist in the 1800s. He concocted a drink that he believed would help prevent malaria. His wife began serving the drink to guests before dinner. Hence the birth of Dubonnet. Drinks can be served with almost anything like chips or peanuts to more elaborate snacks. The aperitif is a relaxing moment used as a transition between a busy day and for what lies ahead for the rest of the evening.
It’s not only reserved for the French.
Cross the border to Italy. That moment before the meal is referred to as antipasti. And no that doesn’t mean food for people who are on gluten free diet restrictions. It’s the first course of an Italian dinner, served at the table. Cured meats and fish, marinated olives and pickled vegetables are traditional antipasti dishes. Each region of Italy has something to offer.
Head further south….for Spanish Tapas !
The word tapas is literally translated to mean « to cover ». This is because originally tapas were when Spanish bartenders put slices of cold cuts over drinking glasses to keep the flies out of the drink. Nowadays tapas are more of a way of eating. Tapas can be served like an appetizer as a complement to a meal. But it’s really a meal in itself, or rather several dishes. Assortments of mini dishes are served with drinks. There are hundreds of possibilities and it doesn’t necessarily mean finger food. In Spanish Catalane tapas are typically served in little brown clay dishes. Tapas can be an assortment of cold cuts like chorizo and manchego cheese to elaborate mini stews. Sweet dishes might also be included. One thing is certain. This style of eating makes for a pleasant moment between friends – nobody has to go back and forth to the kitchen!
So whether its tapas, antipasti, or the apéro, this is a time for socializing and for new culinary discoveries. Which will be your favorite?