by Melinda Gallo

Italians clean up their plates

I went out to dinner with a few friends the other night. And I was surprised that no one left a spot of food on their plates. I love food and I eat quite a lot for my size; however, I just can't finish every plate that is put in front of me.

We ordered a primi (first course) and then a secondi (entrée). I can finish the primi, which is normally a pasta dish, but when I know that a meat and a contorno (side dish) are coming up, I wonder how it's all going to fit in my stomach. And somewhere in the back of my mind, I'm also wondering if there will even be room for dessert. I read somewhere that we should eat only two fistfuls of food and I'm sure I go a bit beyond that already.

I talked to my friend Debora about it and she said that she was taught to always finish her plate. She said that it's normal for Italians to finish everything. I was taught that as well, but now that I'm an adult, I only eat what I can. I try not to force myself unneccessarily.

I'm always left sitting there with food on my plate, a little embarrassed because I think they must think I'm impolite. I've decided to go about ordering in restaurants a little differently. I'll try to skip the primi and just eat the secondo. And then, I'm almost assured of having dessert as well, which I've had to pass up before.

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