Friday, May 7, 2010

Eataly. In pictures. Bologna

So everybody talks about Italy's food culture. But coming from New York, a place where you can get breakfast at 3 am or 3pm, we tend to forget that the rest of the world does not operate on our insane schedule. It turns out that Italians, as much as they like good food, also like to consume it in a rather orderly fashion and, it seems, they're not particularly good at over-extending themselves by providing 24/7 nourishment to the fellow human beings. That is to say you can forget about getting your breakfast in a restaurant past, let's say, 11 am. Yes, New York spoils you - you eat when you're hungry, not when you're supposed to. And that royally screws you over in Italy. What am i to do if I've missed lunch (catch it between 12 and 2, or go hungry untill 7)?

Enter Aperol-hour, if you're lucky to be in Bologna. This ingenious concept in a true italian fashion is about good food, good drink and good life in general. You can enter any restaurnat, cafe, deli, or pizzeria and order Aperol - a grapefruit/citrus flavored aperitif, served on ice with prosecco and a splash of seltzer - your drink arrives accompanied by an array of small plates, tapas style. What's on those plates depends how generous the cafe is. It could be various crostini, bruscheta, sardines, or simply olives, and even potato chips. One afternoon, just walking through a street hungry, I've sampled three different places, ranging from a hip-looking lounge (Aperol: 3 Euro. Olives, caper berries, sun-dried tomatoes: Priceless) to a mid-range snack bar (Aperol: 2 Euro. Potato chips and crostini) and a hole-in-a-wall filled with university students (drinking beer!) serving 1 Euro Aperol with bite size tomato bread.

Horse-meat bresaola, Parmigiano and arugula salad.

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