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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/1731

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1551
TYPICAL ITALIAN DISHES

meal, seasoned with salt, and cooked, frequently by baking, until firm. It may be served sliced or neatly arranged on a dish, but the Italians, nearly all of whom below a certain class have little regard for the niceties of life, frequently serve the polenta on a wooden platter, upon which it is turned when cooked. From this slices are cut off with a string; for it is as much against etiquette to use a knife to polenta as it is in England to use a steel knife for fish.

Risotto forms part of the daily fare of many Italians. Rice is its principal ingredient, as will be seen from the recipe for Risotto alla Milanese, No. 3744. Needless to say, the risotto of the poorer Italians is a much more simple preparation than the one referred to, for it often consists simply of well-cooked rice flavoured with a little onion browned in oil or butter, and a good sprinkling of cheese.

Simple as the process is, it would appear that macaroni, spaghetti, and similar preparations can only be cooked to perfection by the Italians. The respective pastes are cooked to a certain point, then drained, and thickened with white or tomato sauce, or a mixture of the two, with the addition of a little cream and a touch of cheese. Prepared by a skilful Italian cook, these dishes are perfect, and might with advantage be more frequently employed to vary the monotony of the English fare.

Their sauces, although distinctly flavoured with garlic, are delightful, for the Italians alone appear to rightly understand the use of this bulb. Tomato sauce made by an English cook, although it may be excellent in many respects, always lacks that indescribable " something " which the Italians impart to it.

Meals in Italy.—The brightness of the sun calls the Italians from thenrest at an early hour. Like the French, their early repast generally consists simply of coffee or chocolate and rolls.

The Collazione, the midday meal of the upper classes, is almost identical with the English luncheon or the French déjeuner á la fourchette, while the simple meal of the poorer Italians frequently consists of nothing more substantial than chocolate or fruit and bread.

Afternoon Tea, the dainty meal that is purely English, and which seldom reaches perfection in any other country, is not unknown in Italy, but it is rarely provided except for English friends or English visitors.

The hour of serving Pranzo, the evening meal, varies just as it does in England or France, the masses partaking of it when their day's work is done, and the leisured classes at their convenience and pleasure.

Food Supply.—The Italian lakes and rivers abound in almost every variety of fish known to us, while on the south coast many kinds of shell-fish peculiar to the country are found, and are usually eaten raw, or cooked much in the same way as we do oysters.

The supply of game is both abundant and good. The Italians, like ourselves, are very fond of pheasants, partridges, grouse, woodcock,