As night falls in Milan, the locals take to the bars. Kathy and I took to the bars recently while in Milan. Ergo: we are locals. For one week in October I became subsumed in Milanese life, in all of its manifest glory: the food, the drink, the people-watching, the fashions. And of course, the aperitivos…
By luring us in with cocktails of myriad colors and the promise of gratis buffets, the city’s bar-rooms have created a social custom and recent cultural norm. For the price of €10 both Kathy and I enjoyed a Campari or Cinzano-based fruity beverage plus a virtual smorgasbord of flavorsome dishes; all-you-can-eat is the promise and by Jove, the Milanese encourage the hearty consumption of food with beverage.
Between the hours of 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., the Milanese file into their neighborhood bars and fashionable watering holes. Kathy and I, too, elbowed our way to the bar at Momo in the hip Navigli region – on the canals, in fact – to partake in the most civilized tradition I have ever come across: the aperitivo.
Strictly speaking, an aperitivo is a pre-meal drink served to whet your appetite or, as the Italians say, to “open your stomach.”
And open the stomach it did. The merest sip of Campari, yes – at 8 months pregnant (now, now, no judging allowed…) had me skipping toward the complimentary buffet of Italian finger foods. What did I find? Hand-sliced salumi, cheeses and arancini; octopus tendrils and olives; fresh-flipped omelettes and bowls of polenta with spicy meat ragu. Indeed, my stomach had been ‘opened’. Grazie, Milan!