What is an aperitif?
The earliest sources of the aperitif go way back to medicine man Hippocrates. His bitter brews opened his patients’ appetite. The Latin word aperitivus translates as ‘that what opens’.
The bitterness remained a central theme. In the nineteenth century Turin was the aperitif capital. Vermouth made its entry and has since settled as a regular in the aperitif landscape.
Once the appetite reappeared, people needed food. You see, a logic process. Balanced, smooth and somehow healthy.
Sicilian style aperitif
The North Italian tradition of having aperitifs came down to Sicily. Along the way the concept mutated. And Sicilians gave it a personal touch.
Whereas much of the drinks remained similar, food served didn’t. Local chefs invented and alternated new dishes. What is most typical is the quantity. Sicilians can’t stand seeing hungry people. That is the biggest offense imaginable.
The favorable climate permits eating and drinking outside. Almost all year round.
Traditionally there is no cutlery present. Portions are small and do not require cutting. Bringing food to your mouth using your fingers allows a peculiar sensation. A primal, almost tribal way of eating. The presence of sticks complete this sensation. The Spanish tapa and pintxos tradition comes close to the Italian one. Small portions served on bread while drinking. Nice. Both the Spanish and Italian tradition derailed in recent years. Sometimes leading to interesting, new approaches. Sometimes resulting in extreme banality, embarrassing its origins.
Aperitif and dinner, apericena
The aperitif proceeds dinner. In theory. Recently aperitif time and dinner started to converge. That is how the ‘apericena‘ came forth. Where brunch unites breakfast and lunch, apericena combines aperitif and dinner.
The rules change though. The appearance of cutlery for example. And, alas, the dreaded buffet and all-you-can-eat formula. Very few places keep the standard high. Low cost dinner does not exist. Should not exist.