If you have been to Italy at least once in your life or you had the pleasure of enjoying Italian cuisine, maybe you wondered if Italians really eat bread and pasta in the same meal.
Even if it seems like a simple question, it hides many exceptions and different situations in everyday Italian meals.
I will explain everything and tell you clearly the situations in which we Italians eat bread and pasta in the same meal, at home or in a restaurant.
I will also show you some statistics that will help you understand the actual consumption of pasta and bread, but first, I want to give you a quick answer:
While it’s unlikely to see some Italians eating bread and pasta together in one bite, it’s not uncommon to have this food present in the same meal. An Italian meal typically consists of several dishes, in which the first course is often pasta, while the bread is the classic accompaniment to any complete meal.
So the answer is yes, we Italians (actually, me too) eat bread and pasta in the same meal, which occurs at home in everyday lunches and dinners, especially at the restaurant in our city.
Clearly, this is not a rule, but pretty much a habit. If you are curious to know how many Italians eat bread or pasta and if they really do it every day, look at the statistics I found below.
How many Italians eat bread and pasta together in the same meal?
According to this report on the eating habits of Italians, there are several of my countrymen who always eat bread and pasta for lunch and/or dinner.
About 2.1 million Italians declare that they always eat pasta at lunch and dinner seven days a week, from Monday to Sunday;
While there are over 17 million “carb lovers” of bread, who eat it every day for both lunch and dinner, in short, at every meal. Here I have really dealt with the reason for this love between Italians and bread.
Italians who always eat pasta and bread (*)
|Food||Lunch||Dinner||Lunch and Dinner|
Survey source: Censis-Coldiretti
Although these data do not exactly answer the initial question of whether Italians eat pasta and bread at the same meal, they give us a good clue.
Considering the large number of people who eat pasta every day and at all meals (more than 2 million), it is easily believable that there are several Italians who at some meals find themselves eating pasta and then bread.
As I have already anticipated I am certainly one of these, although I do not do it every day.
But let’s see precisely how we Italians can eat bread and pasta together and when exactly this happens.
Do Italians eat bread with pasta in restaurants?
Let’s now take specific examples and talk about the typical Italian restaurant, let’s start by saying that almost all Italian restaurants serve bread and water first thing as soon as you sit down at the table, even before you decide what to eat and order. If you are wondering if bread is free in Italian restaurants, follow the link.
- Eating bread and pasta together: “Scarpetta” with bread
You understand then that it is highly likely that a pasta dish will be served on the table when bread is also on the table.
This makes it a high probability that you will eat bread and pasta in the same meal, whether it is lunch or dinner at a restaurant.
Especially if the bread is fresh, with a soft crumb and crisp crust as we Italians like it.
But how exactly do Italians eat bread and pasta at restaurants in the same meal, you may be wondering now.
You will hardly see an Italian in a restaurant eating bread and pasta at the same time, but instead, you are likely to see him or her using a piece of bread once he or she has finished all the pasta on the plate, to eat the sauce left on the plate.
This is called “scarpetta nel piatto” in Italy It is done precisely once the pasta on the plate is finished, taking a piece of bread and dipping it into the sauce left on the plate.
Be aware, however, that this gesture is not exactly graceful, some people avoid doing it, many other Italians on the other hand do not mind and do “scarpetta” with the bread until they have finished all the sauce on the plate.
This is a typical circumstance where bread is eaten at the same meal as pasta.
But here is another example again from the restaurant.
- Eating bread and pasta together: the crostino or bruschetta
Still, in our Italian restaurant, there is another case that often leads us to eat bread and pasta together in the same meal.
As I mentioned above, the typical Italian meal consists of several dishes: appetizer, first course, second course, and dessert.
While it is true that the first course is often a pasta dish dressed with some meat or vegetable sauce, it is also true that the appetizer is often made from crostini bread.
Crostini is a typical Italian appetizer, a similar variant is also called bruschetta, each region will have its specific recipe for crostini, but to make it simple it is a thin slice of bread with toppings on it such as sauces, meat pate, vegetables, fish and more.
So here it is if I order crostini or bruschetta as an appetizer and order a pasta dish as a first course, I will end up eating the two together in the same meal.
Do Italians eat bread with pasta at home?
Yes, just like in restaurants, Italians when at home set the table with fresh bread, even though pasta will then be served on the table.
It is certainly not one of the habits most recommended by our dieticians, but certainly, many of us when we eat a plate of pasta with sauce at home, do not deny ourselves the pleasure of finishing the sauce left on the plate with bread, thus making the scarpetta that I explained above.
Similarly, when you have important lunches or dinners at home with other family members, the breadbasket is put on the table and you will probably also have appetizers made from slices of bread such as the crostini I mentioned, which you can follow up with the first course that is almost always pasta.
In conclusion: does the average Italian eat bread and pasta in the same meal?
From the data we saw above, but especially from my experience living in Italy (almost 40 years now!) I can answer you:
Yes, we Italians may eat bread and pasta in the same meal, because we use bread to finish the sauce, or we use bread for other dishes in the same meal such as crostini or bruschetta. On the other hand, it is unlikely to see an Italian eating bread and pasta at the same time, right in the same bite.
In fact, it would be very unlikely and unwise to accompany the bite of pasta with a bite of bread, since we are talking about two foods that share the same base, flour.