My big fat Italian feast!

“Mangia, mangia!” “eat, eat!” Italians never seem to have enough food in their bellies!

Have you ever been invited for lunch by an Italian family?

An Italian mamma will never leave you alone until you have eaten at least double of what you need.

Then when you see a cheeky smile on her face then you will know that she is happy with how much she managed to feed you. Now you can sit back and relax, she will leave you alone!

Having grown up on large portions of food one of the things I first noticed when I moved to the UK is how much less food people eat at family dinners compared to an Italian family. I mean, we do really pig out but then I suppose we don’t snack afterwards until the next meal. After breakfast it is 2 square meals a day and that’s all.

What I love about an Italian mamma is that she never thinks it is too much hard work preparing a meal from scratch.

Here she is cleaning radicchio, Italian chicory. My dad brings her buckets from the field to clean up. They seem to go through mountains of radicchio through the winter!

cleaning radicchio

Radicchio has a tougher and frankly more interesting texture than ordinary salad. This purple and green radicchio is a winter crop which needs to be tough to endure the cold winter months. Whenever I go to Italy I always take some back with me in my luggage.. I’d rather take that than fancy clothes, make- up and jewellery! As it is so fresh it lasts at least 2 weeks in the fridge.


Last time I visited we had a big family gathering. First, to get our tastebuds ready, we kicked off (as always) with a a good chilled glass of prosecco.


Always with food of course, never drink without it! And what could be better than Italian San Daniele or Parma ham rolled up on a big chunky and crumbly breadstick. We prefer San Daniele ham as it is produced just 40 minutes away from my hometown.

san daniele ham

prosciutto and breadsticks

We quickly moved onto the antipasto: bresaola (air-dried salted lean beef) with arugola and parmesan cheese with  a drizzle of olive oil.

Bresaola with arugola and parmesan

Then a classic “mamma’s lasagna” soon followed. This is mum’s speciality, she makes the best lasagna in  the world!


I always manage more than a slice!

lasagna slice

Sometimes we also have “minestrina” or broth with little pasta or “pastina” during the cold winter months.

minestra with pastina

My mum is very good at spezzatino: Italian beef stew slowly cooked with tomato sauce.. so tender you can cut it with a breadstick! This is what we had after our first course or “primo”.

Italian meat stew in tomato sauce

At last her homemade pumpkin cake with sultanas! The pumpkin was homegrown of course!

pumpkin bread

My sister was in charge of the dessert: a fab panna cotta with fruit of the forest. I must say this was delicious!

pannacotta with fruit of the forest

On this occasion we were treated with some “pasticcini”which were bought at the local patisserie shop.


We had these with a good boiling hot Italian coffee! Not sure I could have possibly fit in anymore food!!

Italian coffee

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19 thoughts on “My big fat Italian feast!

    1. Good idea!
      The beef stew, the bresaola recipe and a very similar (and delicious) pumpkin cake are already on the blog. I have now put a link to them on this post. I have some recipes for panna cotta as well on the blog already. My sister made this and she pour on some fruit of the forest she cooked with a little bit of sugar (like a jam).
      The lasagna is not there yet but I will be making one up soon 😉


  1. Delicious. When I used to travel to Italy for work, my Italian colleagues would insist that I ate a huge lunch, dinner or both even if I insisted that I wasn’t that hungry etc etc. No wasn’t a word they seemed to understand in English or Italian!

    Elinor x


    1. I can imagine! How amusing! Italians always want to make sure people have enough food in their bellies! Hope you are well x


  2. I am so familiar with “eat, eat!” over here. However I think that special occasion family meals in Italy are possibly one of the largest. I’ll never forget what were described as “light lunches” in Sicilia and Campania. Of course I ate as much as I could of each dish as they were all irresistible. Your special meal would be my dream! Thanks 🙂


    1. How funny! Yes, there is no such a thing as “light lunches in Italy”! Ciao and have a good rest of the week x


  3. You forgot the pinching of the cheeks, Alida, lol…My grandmother always made sure each and every person had more than they could eat and would always pinch their cheeks, ours included, to make sure they were pleasantly plump, lol…

    As a matter of fact, that lasagna looks pleasantly plump and delicious as does everything you have shared.

    Thanks so much for sharing, Alida…


  4. Dear Alida,
    Terrific post dear friend…sorry I have not written sooner, but my mom came home from the rehab and the next day I had to got to the hospital for a few days.I am trying to get back in the swing of things but I am still helping my mom and dad everyday, fixing their meals etc. I love this post, that is what my family always did as well…it seems that mostly all Italian families are the same…Mangia, Mangia! I love the radicchio in a salad. And yes..Louise is correct..always had that aunt that would pinch your cheeks and say ” che bella faccia! Thanks for sharing these memories…Be well…
    Dottie 🙂


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