Owing to the numerous conquests it suffered, Milan offers a cuisine that is varied and extensive in its influences. From the rural tradition, rice stew and pasta remain, besides other hearty stews always combined with meat, grain or vegetables. A more elaborate cuisine came with the Visconti and Sforza dynasties.
The era dominated by Charles V left behind the taste for rice, in this case risotto, a descendant of paella. In autumn it has pumpkin while summer brings strawberries. The costoletta milanese and the classic panettone (cake filled with raisins generally served at Christmas) were created during the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
One of the strongest Milanese traditions is the aperitif, which is taken every day at around six in the afternoon.
At that time, many of the bars in the city are brimful of people savouring salami, mortadela, carpaccio, sandwiches, cheeses, olives and fresh anchovies in vinegar, washed down with a drink. On occasion, the Milanese aperitif can become a good alternative to dinner, all for the price of a cocktail and amid a great atmosphere and modern music.
Once inside a restaurant, Milanese cuisine means, first of all, a hors d’oeuvre or antipasti.
The first course is usually pasta, rice or soup.
The second is meat or fish (the city is famous for its top-quality seafood), accompanied by a garnish of vegetables. For dessert, you can always enjoy a good ice cream before your coffee. If you plump for dinner in any Milanese restaurant, you could go for a dish of veal (dressed with onion, oil and vinegar), risotto alla milanesa, stew (also veal) or casoeûla (a dish made with pork and cabbage).
Some 100% regional dishes are pheasant with spices, rice and aspara- gus, whitebait in batter and dried and salted shad. Wines that could go with your meal come from the Franciacorta, Oltrepo Pavese, Garda and Valtellina areas, most notably a spumante from Iseo lake and the Bardolino red.
It is usual to round the bill up after eating and leave a tip (normally between 5% and 10% at most), providing the service has been good.
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