Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Dinner with Friends Italian Style

Twenty-Five years ago, I moved to a small town in northern Italy. I knew no one and spoke no Italian. But, when you are blond and pale, you stand out and soon in this town of 46,000, I had made friends. Throughout the six months that I lived in Italy, one of my fondest memories was dinner. It was not the food, although always good, but rather the ambiance, the idea of friendship around a table, enjoying good food, wine and conversation. I went back to Vercelli this past week and my friends all came together for a large dinner. And that is why, dinner with friends Italian style is the Please The Palate pick of the week.

I have had many good dinners in the US and with my foodie friends, a meal is the entertainment for the evening. Yet most times, dinner in the U.S. is a precursor to something else, such as heading to a bar, a movie or a concert. And, most dinners take between one to two hours. But in Italy, dinner is the event of evening. Dinner is scheduled for 8pm or 9pm and will last three or four hours.

That is what our dinner was like this past week. Sixteen of us met at Osteria del Vecchio Asilo just outside of Vercelli in the town of Tricerro at 8:30pm. A small restaurant, almost every table was set for parties of 6 or more. Our table was the largest for the evening.

We sat down and carafes of the house white and the house red, both very quaffable, were placed down the table. These carafes were continually refilled as course after course of traditional Piemontese dishes prepared by Chef Fabio came out.

We sat, we talked, we laughed, we ate and we drank.