After the Bank Holiday week-end the blog series is back! Todays post is all about food, because let’s face it, an italian wedding reception can fulfill the desires of most western appetites, with a cuisine as delicious and varied as few others around the world.
Food might well be the reason why you’ve decided to get married here in the first place, and you certainly won’t be disappointed! But having tested a restaurant meal while on holiday here will not have prepared you for the kind of menus you will be submitted when shopping around for caterers and venues.
First of all food diversity is such in Italy that recipes and eating/meal customs greatly vary from county to county, even form village to village. What you’ve tasted in Sicily might not be available in Milan, or it might be prepared very differently. To ensure the quality of food and preparation is preserved, try and respect regionality as much as you can. If you have a favourite recipe which is not normally offered by the caterer you’re considering hiring, ask the chef to prepare it so that you can taste it before making up your mind.
Most banqueting companies and restaurants will have a sample menu to show you, but they will ask you to provide an approximate wedding date (so that they can select recipes and food that is available in that season), and dietary requirements. If you have a specific budget to stick to, state it upfront and ask the caterer what they can do for that budget.
The average wedding menu in Italy will be filled with dairy food, meat and fish. If you and your guests follow a vegan diet or have lactose intolerance, make sure to state this clearly from the start. Also, consider that some counties have a cooking tradition rooted in animal farming and hunting, so it might be that the variety for vegetarians in these areas is limited. On the contrary, coeliac disease is catered for practically everywhere, so you will still be able to taste our world famous pasta and pizza even if you’re a coeliac!
The average international wedding menu is starter+main course+side dish. The Italian wedding menu is quite different! Regionality differences aside, it usually starts off with a huge welcome buffet mostly made of finger food. Thin slices of cured meat and parmesan cheese are served with a variety of buns, breads and croutons. Fried finger food is also served at this point, as well as sparkly white wine, juices and aperitifs. A welcome buffet service may last up to 2 hours and make you feel as if you’ve already eaten a full meal! However, as soon as you sit down to dinner, you can be still offered a plated entrée, before moving on to the main meal.
The typical italian meal is divided into primi (first course) and secondi (main course). Primi are pasta courses or soups. You will be asked to choose among:
- stuffed pasta (tortelloni, cappelletti and many others) according to shape, pasta type and filling, usually served with very light sauces,
- dried pasta (the regular one you can buy at your local deli) served with rich sauces like ragù,
- baked pasta like lasagne. has usually two primi, two secondi with side dishes, a large welcome buffet with finger food,
- risotto, a rice recipe usually creamy and delicate.
Secondi are the equivalent of a main course, they’re generally meat/fish-based courses served with a side dish. What you might find peculiar is that a regular Italian wedding menu is made of two primi courses and two secondi! If you feel that this is going to be too much for your guests, arrange with your caterer for a more streamlined menu, this might help you cut the costs.
And what about dessert?! Your wedding cake could be a tiered millefoglie or a fabulous fruit tart, or even a tiramisù cake! Dessert tables (or even buffets) are very common at Italian weddings, prepare for a endless fruit selection, pastry, creamy desserts served in tiny shot glasses, as well as pralines.
Is your mouth watering, yet? And we haven’t discussed kids menu options, yet! In fact, most kids will be more than happy to feast on a full wedding menu, but in case you’re selecting too fancy recipes (or some prepared with wine) you might want to ask your caterer to prepare a kids menu for all children aged 3 to 10. This will usually assume children are eating from the welcome buffet, then sitting down for a simple tomato sauce pasta, and a poultry chop (a schintzel) with fries. Again, if you feel that this is too much, ask for an even simpler option.
I’m sure you’re now super-excited at the prospect of tasting your menu! Take your time and enjoy it, exploring the different options and tastes. A cleverly chosen menu can make any wedding a success!
And that’s about it for now, I hope this blog post was informative and useful to you! Make sure you let me know in the comments section below, and do come back next week when we will discuss entertainment!