An Italian breakfast is very light, consisting of a cup of coffee, and a roll. Lunch, the main meal, is around 1 p.m. A light dinner is eaten in the evening. Wine is a common drink at meals and is also widely used in cooking. Meat and tomato sauces are popular with various types of pasta. Veal is a favorite meat. Cheese is important in the diet, including ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan. Pasta is usually served as a precursor to the main meal. Pesto originates from the region of Italy known as Liguria.
When eating with guests, Italians do not usually hurry; a meal may last one to four hours. Compliments on the home and meal are appreciated by the hosts. It is appropriate for guests to give some attention to children in the family.
The continental style of eating is used. During the meal a person's hands are kept above the table ; to have hands in the laps is improper. At the table, it is impolite to stretch, even if the meal is over. Utensils are placed parallel to each other on the plate when a person is finished eating. A person does not leave the table before everyone is finished eating. Guests do not volunteer to help clean up.