Dinner in Europe is a luxurious moment in time, and I don’t mean moment as in blink and you’ll miss it. Europeans savor their mealtimes where they spend quality time with friends and family over food and drink. So fyi: if you’re ever traveling in Europe and you aren’t eating at Mickey D’s, don’t expect your food to come rocketing out of the kitchen so you can hurriedly stuff it in your pie hole, pay the check and run. It ain’t gonna happen. The concept of “island time” like you find in Hawaii has got nothing on European meal time.
But all of this time spent is not wasted, nor is it boring. A few weeks ago I told you about the digestif; the after dinner drink that helps you to digest your dinner and spend more time enjoying your company. Now I’m going to tell you a bit about aperitifs. Yes, Europeans fancy bookending their meals with liquor – such refined folk.
Aperitifs are a light, usually dry, and low in alcohol pre-dinner drink to help warm up your appetite. Yes, we Americans think the best way to prep our stomachs for more food is to start by ordering a huge plate of potato skins swimming in grease, sour cream, cheese, bacon and onions. A bit counter intuitive don’t you think? But I digress. Aperitifs are not meant to get you drunk, hence the low alcohol, but they definitely start the digestive juices flowing. Sure, a glass of white wine or champagne is also considered to be an aperitif, but there are so many other options out there; so why not be adventurous? These other aperitifs have been around for hundreds of years and are made with various fruits and herbs so that they are a multi-dimensional treat for the senses.
One of the most famous aperitifs is Campari. Even if you’ve never had it, you’ve probably seen the ads for the strikingly red Italian libation. Campari itself has a spicy sweet flavor which allows it to easily be blended with lots of different things to make Campari cocktails that taste very different from one another.
There are a number of well know Campari cocktails like the Negroni, The Americano, The Lucien Gaudin and the truly simple Campari and soda. But my all time favorite, of the Campari cocktails, is the Campari Orange. I like it for all of its simplicity, the amazingly vibrant color (which is sure to put a smile on even the grumpiest of faces) and of course the bright flavors.
A Campari Orange, or Campari and Orange if you like, is exactly what you think it would be. It’s Campari and orange juice. I prefer mine with fresh squeezed oranges, but you could certainly use pre-made oj. Or, you could go for the high glam factor and use fresh blood oranges for an even more vivid shade. Garnish with an orange wheel and you’re ready to take your tastebuds on little vacation. You could spiff things up a bit with a splash of soda, if you like the bubbles, but totally not necessary.
Match.com recently funded a study of one of America’s wildest species: singles. And given that there are 105 million of them (nearly a third of the entire population), it was no surprise that there would be a lot to study and learn.
The survey consisted of 5,200 singles aged, 21 and over, and was designed to find out what their dating habits were. The results uncovered some things that surprised some people (okay, me). They found that many of the usual “Do’s” and ” Don’ts” still apply, but things are definitely evening out between the sexes. Here are some of the findings.
- You’re 30 minutes into the date and he’s boring the hell out of you. You realize that even drinking the entire bottle of wine yourself isn’t going to make this guy interesting so you consider excusing yourself to the ladies room and bailing out the window. Do you do it?: Both men and women believe they can tell 15 minutes into the date if there is any chemistry (31%). If the date isn’t going very well, only 12% of singles would actually bail within the first 30 minutes of the date. (Don’t be a rude dude and slip out the back door or window.)
- Your girlfriends have all told you not to shave your legs before your date so that you won’t be tempted to sleep with the guy on the first date, but you really want to. Do you?: The reality is (or claims to be) only 6.5% of singles claim they frequently have sex on the first date, and 80% of singles disapprove of ending the date in coitus. (Your parents would be so proud of you.)
- He’s hanging on your every word and keeps moving his hand across the table, ever closer to yours. You thought that you were making it pretty clear to him that you weren’t interested in him. Do you tell him that even if he was the last man on the planet you wouldn’t go out with him again?: If your date is just too dense to realize you’re not the perfect couple, most singles feel that honesty is the best policy. 52% of those surveyed agree you should politely explain you aren’t interested, and 24% of singles recommended that you should be evasive about your future availability. However, younger singles are most likely to just ignore your calls and let you go to voicemail. (Cougars take note.)
To see more results from the dating survey, click the link.
Recipe: The Aperitif: Campari and Orange
- 1/4 Cup Campari
- 2/3 Cup Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
- Orange Wheels
- Pour Campari and orange juice into a large rocks glass filled with ice.
- Garnish with an orange wheel.
You could also add a splash of soda to the mixture or eliminate the juice and only use Campari and soda.
Preparation time: 5 Minutes
Number of servings (yield): 1
Meal type: cocktail
Culinary tradition: Italian