Breakfast in Italy

Italian bread

The bread was still warm when I had breakfast this morning at our hotel in Asti. Pillowy on the inside and firm but not too crunchy on the outside. I like bread and butter for breakfast in Italy or bread with one of the many spreadable cheeses.

Italian cuisine — la cucina italiana — has conquered the world over… Pizza, pasta, al dente, panino, focaccia are just some of the words and expressions that have become sine qua non phonemes of the culinary lexicon. (Even cats in America enjoy “Tuscan” cuisine, a fact I find ironic in the light of the recent cat recipe scandal in Italy.)

Above: You’ll find a great breakfast spread even in a modest hotel.

Italy-bound travelers spend so much time thinking and talking the great lunches and dinners but we often neglect to annotate one of the most important meals of the day in any country: breakfast, la prima colazione, literally, the first collation, a first “coming together” etymologically speaking (according to the OED, “A light meal or repast: one consisting of light viands or delicacies (e.g. fruit, sweets, and wine), or that has needed little preparation (often ‘a cold collation’). ‘A repast; a treat less than a feast'”).

Above: We’re in Piedmont where robiola is a queen among cheeses. Robiola, it’s what’s for breakfast, as Robert Mitchum would say.

My “Italian” breakfast usually consists of bread with butter or cheese, fruit juice, and coffee. But the Italian breakfast spread always includes a selection of stewed and fresh fruit, yogurt, charcuterie and cheese (for the German visitors).

Above: Sometimes a pear is more than just a pear. But it’s too early in the morning to go into the Freudian implications of fruit.

This trip, so far so good. We had a fun dinner last night at what seems to be Asti’s most popular Sunday-night pizzeria, Pizzeria Francese, including a stunning Renato Ratti 2001 Barolo Marcenesco (yes, I drank wine with my pizza!).

Tasting starts today at 9 a.m. so I gotta run! More later… Thanks for checking in… and, btw, we’ll be updating the Barbera blog with minute-to-minute updates on our impressions of the tasting… well, not, really minute-by-minute, but you get the picture!