There’s a saying in Italy that goes like: “every country you visit, you’ll meet new habits”.
Now, apart from acknowledging that the original version is way better (“Paese che vai, usanza che trovi”), this is very much true. Particularly, if you are referring to food habits.
And, Milan has its own food culture, although this seems impossible to believe: at day time, people eat their sandwiches while waiting for the subway to arrive; at night time, stressed people eat their feelings with tons of chocolate and whipped cream.
The truth is that Milan has much more to offer than just sandwiches and desserts!
The Milanese cuisine is mainly composed of highly caloric dishes, whose recipes have been created to find a remedy to the winter cold.
No wonder, then, if one of the most acclaimed first dishes is a thick soup, the Milanesa minestrone.
Don’t think that it’s enough to boil chicken with vegetables. First, you must collect pork rinds, bacon bits and chopped bacon, celery, parsley and carrots. Then, you must add, in some cold water, beans, potatoes and vegetables and let simmer for at least two hours. Rice and cabbage are the last two ingredients to add, before enjoying a tasty soup.
If you are missing carbohydrates, take a bite of michetta between one spoonful and the other. The michetta is the number one bread in Milan. Originally, there were three types, depending on the size of the loaf: the michetta, the mica and the micotta. Only the michetta has survived: cut it in half and stuff it with some traditional Milanese cheese, as Gorgonzola, soft stracchino or taleggio. You won’t be disappointed!
Two other first dishes typical of Milan are:
• Polenta. You can have it with no sides or you can go for the accomodada version, which is seasoned and fried. Our favorite is the one with sausage, mushrooms and parmesan.
• The risotto, prepared with Carnaroli rice and white wine. The most popular variant is the one with saffron, one of the tastiest is the creamy version, with extra grated cheese and raw butter.
The Italian and the Austrian cuisines have been fighting for years. They both think they own the merit to having introduced the cotoletta as a main second dish. Needless to tell which one we support.
Let’s leave aside this aspect for a while and let’s talk about something equally important.
The cotoletta is a slice of veal fired in butter. Be wary of those who cook a cotoletta with oil and, if you are very hungry, choose an “elephant ear”, the maxi version!
Every Italian family has a panettone on their Christmas tables.
And, we must thank the people of Milan for this: it was the early 1600 and the panettone was first described as “a large pan perfect for Christmas day”.
However, if you wish to eat something all year long, then choose a barbarjada. The dish is named after its inventor Dominic Barbaia and it is a kind of drink made of coffee, milk and chocolate, perfect to match with biscuits or cakes.