What is antipasto?

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Answered by: Ashley, An Expert in the All About Antipasti Category
An Italian antipasto (literally translated as "before the meal") platter marks the beginning of any Italian meal. For it to be a "real" Italian antipasto platter, It should be served at the table and not before the meal during cocktail hour. So technically it is still considered an appetizer, but not in the American tradition of having hors d'ouevres at a party before dinner. Antipasto can consist of cured meats, cheeses, marinated vegetables or peppers, olives, and sometimes bread or bruschetta. Some of the typical Italian meats that can be used for an antipasto are Prosciutto di Parma (dry-cured pork leg aged for 1-2 years), Mortadella (the original bologne from Bologna, pork sausage with pistachios and speckled with fat), Genoa salami or Capicola (spicy pork). Yeah Italians really like pork. Antipasto also involves cheese. There is always the standby of Parmigiano Reggiano, the delicious hard cow's milk cheese that is aged for a year. Another great cheese is young Pecorino Toscano, a softer sheep's milk cheese with a tangy flavor. Taleggio cheese is a super soft and strong smelling cow's milk cheese. It's a stinky cheese but it has a mild and fruity flavor. Then there is my personal favorite, La Tur. It's a combination of goat, sheep and cow's milk that isn't too overpowering and is soft enough to spread on a baguette or cracker. Finally there are the accompaniments to the meat and cheese. Marinated artichokes are a great side, as well as some Cerginola green olives or pepperoncini (hot green peppers) and bread.

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