Given the global success of Italian restaurant chains and cookbooks, it seems remarkable that so few people around the world actually eat the way we do.
That is, until you realise that few of these exports capture the true spirit of our food culture.
Our appreciation of food comes not just from what we eat, but also from how we eat it. Which means that a recipe or ready meal, no matter how good, can only ever get you part of the way towards an authentic experience.
For us, eating is an event, and one that should savoured. The occasion is as important as the food; we dine at a leisurely pace - often spanning several courses - always around a table, and usually in the company of family and friends.
Time to enjoy our food is so treasured, many of us work late into the evening just to allow us a midday break long enough to head home and enjoy lunch around the family table.
Drinks are also an integral part of our mealtime enjoyment. Wine is the traditional choice, but well-rounded beers like Menabrea have become strong mealtime contenders too, especially when pizza is on the menu.
That’s not to say we drink a lot – a glass or two of wine or beer is more than enough to add to the sense of occasion… and aid our digestion.
These small details are what turn an average meal into an outstanding one. So next time you’re tempted to sit down to a plate of tortellini in front of the TV, why not dust off your dining table and enjoy a true Italian dining experience?