Mealtimes in Italy

Okay, so mealtimes in Italy.

Colazione (breakfast): Breakfast is a cup of coffee with milk like a cappuccino. Maybe a croissant or a sandwich (triangular white sandwiches like the triples in Peru). Italians don’t really eat much for breakfast. They consider the milk in the coffee to be the “food.” But, later in the morning, they will have more coffee. Coffee is a small cup of coffee like an espresso. No coffee in Italy is ever the size of American coffees. Italians will have many coffees throughout the day, although milk in coffee is only for breakfast (so before 11 a.m.).

Around 10 or 11 a.m., Italians might have a small snack with their next coffee.

Pranzo (lunch): Lunch is generally eaten from noon to 2 p.m. but on a Sunday, lunch can be later.

Merenda (tea): At around 3 p.m., Italians (and certainly children) will have a snack. One could have a gelato… or some crackers and cheese.

Aperitivo (happy hour): after work, Italians may have a tapas/mezze style spread. Many judge the bar based on the selection of free nibbles. During the current COVID restrictions (restaurants close for in restaurant dining at 6 p.m.), many people are having aperitivo at 3 p.m. Why not?

Cena “che-na” (dinner): Dinner is generally at 8:30 p.m. or later. One had a snack earlier, thankfully.

When Tea is Lunch – Meal Times in Lima

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A breakfast sandwich of “pan chicharron” or pork roast and sweet potato.

Meal times are slightly different in Lima. For breakfast, Limenos eat a sandwich and cup of coffee for breakfast (desayuno), in the 7-9 times frame. Like the Colombians, they don’t eat sweets early in the morning so the idea of pancakes in the morning is an odd idea to them. Then, a cafecito (everything is ‘ito”in Lima) later in the morning (the Brits have “elevenses” at 11 a.m.) and in Lima coffee is always served with a mini-cookie.

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Ceviche – only for lunch!

Lunch (almuerzo) is from 1-2:30 p.m. (12 for those who work early shifts) and usually includes rice, protein, salad, and soup and/or a side dish — and don’t forget that potatoes are a vegetable.

Then, from 4-6 p.m., when the cold tea-time cold winds move in, there is “lonche” — a version of the word “lunch” — which involves something warm to drink like tea, coffee, chocolate, plus a sandwich. The sandwiches are usually the triangular shaped sandwiches like large British tea sandwiches. It’s the local version of high tea.

Dinner (cena) is from 8-10 p.m. which means that many restaurant do not even open until 7:30 p.m.

Note: Knowing the meal times can help you get in without a reservation.