Afternoon is reserved for the merenda, yet another snack. By now, you should wonder how those Italians manage to stay fit and good-looking. I don't know either, it seems to be all about food, all the time. Merenda, in any case, is a Latin words that literally means: that has to be earned. So it's customary for parents to give their children a snack in the afternoon if they have been behaving and doing their homework. Schooling is very important in a country with high unemployment and more art and architecture than anywhere else.

Pizza

is a delight you'll be surprised to find available only for dinner. The restaurateurs don't want the working lunch crowd to get away with a cheap pizza, so it's dinnertime when the wood ovens get turned on. Dinner is at around 8PM (ok, I take it back, you WILL starve in Italy).

Pizza is for young people, mostly. It's a cheap eat, and yet you would drive for an hour to get to your pizzeria on the other side of town. Mysteries of Italy, again. Just like the fact that pizza is the only dish that goes invariably with a beer. Preferably one of those awful Italian beers you will love to hate.

Thin or thick crust? Ah, therein lies the crux of the problem. As a matter of fact, neither is true in general: Rome and middle Italy prefers the thin crust, topped with little. Milan and the North, but Naples and the South, like thick crusts. Naples is where pizza was born, so we'll trust them.

In any case, the experience is quite different than at home. Pizza is mostly crust, tomato sauce (nobody calls it marinara here) and toppings. Mozzarella is sparse, and except for the rich quattro formaggi, the four cheeses pizza, the whole meal is not too fattening.

Next: What can go wrong?