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Italian Antipasto

Italian Antipasto

Antipasto, plural antipasti can be classified as starters or appetizers and these can be cold or hot. It is a part of the culinary tradition of italy. The world itself means “before the meal” and can be compared to the French hors d'oeuvre and Spanish tapas. 

Serving of antipasto involves a choice of small bites meant to waken up the appetite before the main meal. Ingredients used are colorful and involve vegetables, meats and seafood.  Marinated vegetables are used such as artichoke hearts, peppers, mushrooms and garlic. Great use of different marinated and stuffed olives. Meats are cured and may include the famous prosciutto ham and pepperoni salami.

Among the cold appetizers, the most popular are the mixed cold cuts where one should not forget the ham. These can be then composed to taste with regional cold cuts, often accompanied by pickles. Additionally, it is often the preserved fish, herring variously prepared, or anchovies in oil, sardines, marinated fish. Pate, terrine, veal with tuna sauce, caviar, smoked salmon or marinated, boiled or smoked sturgeon, shellfish, raw or cooked, are also appetizers. These are usually served alone as an appetizer complete in itself, while other specialties, as the roe or fish eggs that are not the sturgeon, come usually in composition with vegetables for particular types of salads (capponalda, condiggiun). Also raw vegetables or cooked, or fruit which is not too sweet, like grapefruit, avocado or melon. Then the classics, especially in formal dinners, like crab, shrimp cocktail or shrimp, shellfish or quail "in Bellavista". In the restaurants, most often in central Italy, bruschetta is often used, simple or variously topped with tomato, mushrooms. In the Tuscan cuisine, classic appetizer is the crostini with livers usually venison or chicken, but also with other toppings which are sometimes served hot.

The hot appetizers have a wider range of possibilities and their use is complicated by the fact that many of them can also be considered entrée - especially all the pies, the tartlets, puff pastry, the vol-au-vent, the savory puffs, blini. So if served as an an appetizer, small amounts are used of such specialties like seafood gratin, snails Bordeaux or Burgundy and shellfish boiled or stewed, croquettes or patties.

The regional cuisine offers, apart from the sausages and those specialties that have become part of the national use, such as toast, an infinite range of appetizers, or at least of dishes that are positioned as starting the meal. Examples are the Sicilian algae raw in salads with oil and lemon, the wet caôda Piedmontese raw octopus and cuttlefish used in Apulia, from Tuscany to Campania migliacci and panzanelle turnovers and pizzelle, from Valtellina sciatt flowers fried zucchini Romans, stuffed and fried olives from Ascoli area, to scamorze spit Abruzzo.