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Italian word of the day: 'Apericena'

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Italian word of the day: 'Apericena'
Photo: DepositPhotos
18:03 CET+01:00
Is it a snack? Is it dinner? No, it's apericena!

We've all heard of the famous Italian ritual of aperitivo, or aperitif, a pre-dinner drink which in Italy must always be accompanied by snacks.

The Italian word aperto means to open or begin.

- Posso offrirvi un aperitivo mentre aspettiamo l'arrivo di Carlo?

- Can I offer you a cocktail while we wait for Carlo to arrive?

An Italian aperitivo is really more about the snacks than the drink, though.

The “snacks” are included in the drink price. And they vary greatly by region, restaurant and bar.

You could get anything from a dish of fat olives to a small platter of cheeses and meats, or the bar might tempt people in with a huge buffet, where you can fill your plate repeatedly with different types of pastas, salads and various fried things.

Aperol Spritz with a small snack is a popular Italian aperitivo. Photo: pixabay

Some older Italians like to complain that the “new trend” of big aperitivo buffets is “like happy hour in the US”. But if you've experienced both, you'll know that's not quite true.

The food is a long way from a dish of stale happy-hour peanuts, for a start. In some towns, bars get a bit competitive with their aperitivi and offerings can be very generous.

You might even be presented with a hot dish of pasta or polenta con ragu as a sort of pre-appetiser appetiser, if you can imagine that. (Only in Italy!)

When there's this much food though, is it really still an aperitivo?

Some people might call it an aperitivo rinforzato or “beefed-up” aperitivo.

But since it's becoming a replacement for dinner, or cena, it's becoming known as apericena.

It's great for anyone on a budget, or who just doesn't feel like cooking. Unsurprisingly, it's becoming more popular and the once jokey portmanteau is now slipping into normal speech.

- Andiamo sempre per apericena il venerdì

- We always go for apericena on Fridays

- stili di consumo hanno trasformato un aperitivo in un apericena

- consumer habits have changed an aperitivo into an apericena

If you've never had an Italian aperitivo buffet, or apericena, we think you should definitely give it a try!

Do you have a favourite Italian word you'd like us to feature? If so, please email our editor Jessica Phelan with your suggestion.

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