Sunday Story: Calamari Fritti

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Calamari Fritti

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This is the plate that gets our big Italian family running to the table. When we are in Sardegna it’s the first thing we order at all our favorite restaurants and we want them hot-hot-hot!! Here is the ordeal we go through to get calamari fritti as an appetizer…

If you know Italian cuisine you might know that un piatto di calamari fritti is a secondo piato (a second course) not an appetizer. A popular and traditional antipasto is steamed seafood dishes drowned in delicious olive oil and fresh herbs, such as, polpo e patate (octopus and potatoes). Since calamari are battered and fried they are heavier and considered more of a “meal” than a starter. You might wonder why it matters what you order first for an antipasto? Don’t restaurants just give you what you want when you want it?

Ha!! No, not in Italy! We aren’t in America my friends. My Italian family is mortified when American restaurants serve all the food together on one plate . In Italy, there is a proper course etiquette that goes without saying.

-Antipasto (cured meats/ seafood) -Primo (usually pasta)

-Secondo (meat/fish)

-Contorno (sides- vegetables/ salad)

-Dolce (dessert)

The tradition of getting calamari fritti as an appetizer started with my dad. He wanted something salty/fried/crunchy with fresh local seafood of Sardegna- calamari heaven!

So, here’s the deal: we sit down and we all look at Zio Giuseppe (Peppo), the planner and order executive when we are at restaurants, he and my dad exchange looks and it’s communicated that he wants calamari first. The waiter comes. First we order drinks. He comes back and Peppo begins, “These Americans (points at us) want calamari as an appetizer. I try to tell them how wrong this is, but they don’t understand. It’s really best if we just get them the calamari right now so they will all shut up. Trust me, it will be better for everyone!” We usually get the calamari ;). A small victory that makes our world go around!

You wouldn’t believe how many times restaurants have flat out told us, “No! Not possible! We can’t even consider it!”  I die laughing because that’s the Italian way. The pride of sticking to tradition. After all these years of living in America, maybe that’s the one benefit when we go back to Italy- We get the CALAMARI AS AN APPETIZER .

Grazie Zio Peppo! We can’t wait to share this plate with you again soon…!! 

What’s your favorite Italian antipasto? Share in the comments.

Written with Amore,


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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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