The antipasti (in Italian ‘before the main course’; plural antipasti) is the first culinary event before serving food from an Italian restaurant after serving bread and wine . The name is associated with the Italian word grass: food and the Latin prefix ‘ante’: previous.
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It is considered a cold snack served before eating. It is a custom that traditionally occurs in Italian cuisine, it can include from the chef’s most elaborate specialties to as simple as olives, affetati (salami slices), diverse seafood, artichokes, frittata, etc. The objective of the antipasto is to whet the appetite before the meal, without saturating the senses.
The tradition of serving food before banquets with the aim of exciting rather than satiating dates back to the Italian Renaissance. Where credenza were used, or specialties of the kitchen generally profusely adorned. At this stage of the banquet, diners were often offered ‘aguamanos’ with water flavored with flowers. This arrangement already appeared in the work of the Italian cook Bartolomeo Scappi (c. 1500-1577). The antipasti described by Scappi include both sweet elements such as: marzipan, mostaccioli from Naples, or salty as: slices of beef tongue cooked in wine, prosciutto accompanied with capers and raisins.
Antipasti usually include both meat and vegetable elements, as a rule being cold elements. The meat elements, cut into slices, include for example Parma prosciutto ( ham ), cold cuts and sausages, etc. In spring various salads and pickles are included.
The typical antipasto is usually made up of gherkins , onions , bell peppers and bottarga, macerated in a mixture of vinegar and brine. Sometimes fruit is included, such as melon or figs, or a Piedmontese fondue (raw vegetables accompanied with sauces and melted cheese). Antipasti are often served with salty bread sticks. Variants throughout Italy depend on the local varieties included in the various preparations.
This second modality with pickled vegetables is the most frequent in Argentina , Venezuela and Colombia . Also as a starter or antipasto, some based on tuna and tomato sauce among other vegetables such as onion, paprika , celery , carrot , cauliflower , etc. (all the vegetables mentioned are prepared in brine or in vinaigrette ).
They are usually consumed accompanied by crackers or bread . Although the antipasto name is reserved for the macerated plants that often are very similar to those pickles in brine .