The other evening we had some friends over and as we set around the pool, we shared a lovely platter of an assortment of meats and cheeses- Italian style.
Antipasto is what this is called in Italy.
Please note – it is not anti pasta – and has nothing to do with pasta. The word comes from Latin. (Anti – before. Pasto – meal.) So, Antipasto literally means before the meal and is the Italian equivalent of appetizers. It does not contain salad or fried foods. Most Antipasto dishes include cured meats, olives, peperoncini, mushrooms, anchovies, artichoke hearts, various cheeses (such as provolone or mozzarella), pickled meats, and vegetables in oil or vinegar. Here is an important part: You must artfully arrange the meats and cheeses on the platter. The more colors on the plate the better. The purpose behind Antipasto plates in Italian restaurants is summed up beautifully in the following quote. “The aim is to excite rather than fill diners, who will then be inspired to choose yet more delicacies from the menu,” writes Gillian Riley in The Oxford Companion to Italian Food (Oxford University Press, 2007). That’s why in Italian restaurants, Antipasto plates are served well before the order is taken for the main course.
Although what goes in your Antipasto is up to you, there are certain things you must have. Below is a link to a wonderful website that teaches how to create a perfect platter.
And of course, you must -MUST- have the perfect bottle of wine to compliment the array of meats, cheese, olives, etc. I think fruity wines go best. White wine – a nice Pinot Grigio is an excellent choice. If you want a red, a classic Chianti will bring out the flavors of the meat and complement the cheese. Although this weekend, I had an Oregon Pinot Noir, Eluana – which was perfect with our antipasto.
So, go to the store and have fun creating your antipasto dish and then invite some friends over, put the Bocelli channel on Pandora, and enjoy.
Award winning and bestselling author, Vincent B. “Chip” LoCoco, lives in New Orleans. His first novel, Tempesta’s Dream – A Story of Love, Friendship and Opera, became an Amazon bestselling novel and was awarded the Pinnacle Achievement Award in Historical Fiction. Amazon also has named his book as a Top Rated Novel in Italian Historical Fiction. His next novel, A Song for Bellafortuna, was shortlisted in the William Faulkner – William Wisdom Competition and was named a Best Reads. It was also awarded the prestigious B.R.A.G. Medallion Award in Historical Fiction. He is an estate planning attorney in New Orleans, where he lives with his wife and two children. He is often asked to speak to groups and book clubs on writing, all things Italian and Opera. Chip is a member of the Italian American Writers Association. Visit him at www.vincentlococo.com