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How to Cicchetti in Venice

Posted in Features, Travel & customs, and Uncategorized

 I have taken some of the staff and editors of The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati tm to my office in Italy and  some are traveling around  Italy as well,  capturing interesting stories ,places ,faces and more,..In honor of the culinary cruise I will be doing in Venice this winter, here is an interesting bit of info for those of you wanting to visit Venezia.

Cicchetti is a word used in Venice to describe appetizers or anything served on a stick at their version of happy hour. Learn how to cicchetti in a fashionable way, and its history.

When one thinks Venice, the word tapas is not typically part of the vocabulary. But, while the small plates are a Spanish custom, it’s not all that strange to find them in Venice. In its days as a major trading post, the island city traded not only with Spain but with the moors, who are thought to have pioneered the snack foods, and Venice, in turn adopted its own version: cicchetti, a favorite early evening bite among Venetians, many of whom have post-work drinks and snacks in tiny local publs (baccari).

It’s a fun way to mingle and an inexpensive and delicious way to have a meal. With options ranging from tiny salami sandwiches to toasted polenta, it’s tough to choose what to have, but all the options are bite-sized, making it easy to have a little taste of everything. Think deep-fired mozzarella, Try deep-fried mozzarella cheese, artichoke hearts, olives, and prosciutto with melon. Anything, in short, that can be eaten with a toothpick.

But how to do cicchetti?

When in Venice…

When in Venice, do as the Venetians do, of course. A giro d’ombra (giro means stroll and ombra literally translates to shade) is a Venetian version of the pub crawl. The name reflects a time long since passed, when a portable wine bar would move through St. Mark’s Square, so as always to hide in the shadow of the Campanile bell tower.

There is no more wine cart on St. Mark’s, but the ombra, which is slang for a glass of wine, lives on, and can be found in baccari in back streets throughout the floating city, and with wine comes cicchetti. When seeking out baccari the trick is to get lost, and this is not tough in Venice. Simply wander away from St. Mark’s and into the maze of residential back streets, where plenty of baccari are waiting, complete with counters full of bite-sized savories and wines by the glass written on chalkboards.

Though ordering a whole plate is an option, the true Venetian way is a slow sampling. Sip wine, or, to be truly authentic, start with an aperitivo (a before-dinner drink), like a Bellini or a Prosecco and work your way through the toothpicked noshes, starting with a little of this and moving on to that (and that and that…), and finally ending with a fragolino, the local sweet wine, which typically comes with a small biscotti for dipping. Since the bars aren’t open very late, get an early start (by 6:00 pm) which will allow access to the best cicchetti.

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Ciao for now!!

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