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We all know that food is very important in Italy. But did you know that lunch is the most important meal for Italians? My lunch is completely different here in Italy than it was when I still lived in Holland. There it’s normal to eat a few slices of bread with various toppings. For sure I never ate pasta, rice, meat or vegetables for lunch like I do now that I live in Italy! It got me thinking of lunchtime for kids in Italy. Esther Schouten will give us some inside information on this matter….

Lunch time, I love it! I just love to eat and luckily for me the Italian cuisine is one of my favorite. Unfortunately, my little boy doesn’t agree with me. He’s not a big eater and doesn’t like a lot of things. But I guess parents from all over the world can recognize this problem, right?

In Italy the importance of food begins already very early. When I went to the pediatrician when Alessio was 7 months old, she gave me a complete description of how to prepare the first porridge. It seemed so complicated but in the end it was a piece of cake! To give you an idea of how I should prepare the porridge:

  • Cook the vegetables (carrots, zucchini or pumpkin). After cooking the veggies, put them into the blender/mixer.
  • Add meat like beef, chicken, rabbit meat or horse meat. (I never ate horse or rabbit meat to be honest, but this to show you how normal this is here in Italy even if the baby is only 7 months old!!!)
  • Instead of meat you can add cheese (parmesan cheese or mozzarella)
  • The finishing touch is to add a bit of olive oil and the baby’s meal is done!

Of course now you hope that you’re baby eats everything…

As I said before, unfortunately Alessio is not a big eater. When bringing him to the playgroup for the first time, now two months ago, I was a bit worried. While in Holland there is no specific menu for lunch, here in Italy there is a menu that changes every week. In Holland, the teachers prepare for them slices of bread with what the child likes. Cheese, ham, peanut butter, etc. There are various toppings to choose from. They normally drink a glass of milk and have some fruit in the morning. It’s simple but in Holland we’re used to it. In Italy it’s completely different. The lunch is either handled by a catering company that brings the lunch every day (this is the case at Alessio’s playgroup) or some playgroups have their own kitchen where they prepare the lunch. Even though the menu changes every week it always contains a:

  • Starter (pasta with tomato sauce, risotto, lasagna, pizza or minestrone soup)
  • Main course (chicken, a large variety of meat or fish)
  • Side dish (mashed potatoes, vegetables or salad)

This all is served with water and bread. They end lunch with fruit and sometimes even a cake!

I’m very happy with this menu and the way they care about food. Even though Alessio is difficult when it comes to food, he always gets the chance to try something new. And for now, I don’t have to be the kitchen princess anymore, at least not for lunch time. I’ll surely do my best for dinner time….

Buon Appetito!


  1. Same for my kids, who attend an American school here, but italian lunch! By the way a little note, do you come from Noord- or Zuid Holland ? Because that is the only part that is called Holland. Our country is still The Netherlands…….

    1. Both me as Esther Schouten come from Zuid-Holland. I know it’s called The Netherlands but my family living in the USA never call it The Netherlands always Holland. So it depends… Thanks for commenting anyway and nice to hear that your kids who attend an American school but get Italian lunch…lucky them 😀

  2. I briefly remember those stages when my kids were little. It seems quite long ago like a faded memory. Now I just worry I have enough food to go around and they eat me out of house and home.

  3. If I remember correctly, children’s taste palates take a while to develop. It may be too soon for your Alessio to enjoy the food of his playgroup. Maybe some of the children are older than him? As a mother myself, I would say to be happy that he tries new foods but not to push him. Let him have what he wants. The Italian foods that you mentioned seem too heavy for a 7-month-old! (I’m Italian-American, born in the states.) How old is Alessio now?

    1. Hi Marcella, I will let Esther know about your comment so she can reply to you herself, ok? She’s now in The Netherlands so she will reply asasp! Anyway thanks for visiting my blog and commenting 🙂 Ciao, Letizia

    2. Hi Marcella, thanks for your comment 🙂
      For a 7 months old infact this food is too heavy and they only eat the porrigde.
      Alessio is now 3 years old and he tries at the moment what he wants without forcing him.
      But it’s very good that the school offers a variety of food indeed!

      Ciao Esther

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