Posted by: roamingolivia | March 5, 2010

Aperitivo turns dangerous


I realise that I still haven’t posted any pictures yet of this phenomenon – or at least no photos that really represent it (my flatmate wrote, “I need photos… otherwise it hasn’t happened”) – but I must note that I have already discovered* the dark underbelly of aperitivo.

That is namely that you don’t really eat it. There are several reasons for this:

1. The food is honestly not that good. Okay, it’s Italian, so it’s not that bad. But there are things like little sliced up hot-dog-like sausages, mixed with rice and what appear to be frozen peas. There is old pasta (I think it might be from the night before). There are chicken wings (which can be tasty but I don’t feel like eating them lately). There is also old bread. (All of these are real dishes I have personally encountered at aperitivo in the past 2 weeks.) So it’s not great. Sorry to disappoint. But it’s kind of a relief that it’s not that great because otherwise I really would have no idea how these places make any money. It’s a weird model: Italians don’t drink tons of drinks in a row, so you’re not making much money on booze (although, okay, the drinks are 10 Euros), and then you have to put out a whole spread of food.

2. Italians aren’t greedy pigs, so they don’t eat like plates of food just because it’s free. This is probably why the aperitivo model has never taken off in, say, Virginia (no offense, but I’ve been to the places my dad calls HOGs – Houses of Gluttony, a.k.a. the all-you-can-eat buffet). On the other hand, of course, Americans would also be tempted to drink more so it’s hard to say what would win in that – profits on booze or losses on gluttony.

Anyway, all of that means that you are out for many hours in the evening after work, not really eating, and having a few drinks. This isn’t a really dangerous problem because, as noted in Point 1, Italians aren’t exactly rushing off for more drinks every 30 minutes. In fact, this means that Milan’s aperitivo culture has is significantly less dangerous than, say, the British male-dominated pub culture (i.e., you go to the pub and drink pints every 30 minutes and never have any food). 

I’m just saying you have to be careful.

* It’s interesting we have both “discovered” and “uncovered”, when both dis- and un- mean very similar things, right? And they have almost – but not completely – identical meanings. I went with “discovered” in this case to avoid two words starting with un- in this sentence, but either would have worked. I don’t really know where this aside is going.

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