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.