In Italy, every dinner does not conclude with a heavy dessert, in fact, dessert is rarely served at all.
Unlike typical American dinners that end with a slice of pie, cake or baked dessert, Italians simply have an espresso and a piece of fruit to end the meal.
We save the decadent desserts (cannoli, cassata) for special occasions and pastry and biscotti for our afternoon caffe.
When dining out, waiters bring a bowl of fruit (sitting in ice) to the table, either sliced watermelon in the summer months or whole oranges.
If you’re eating at an Italian friend’s home, your host may serve you fruit with a “special” touch (laced with a liqueur or poached in wine). I have enjoyed both Marsala Poached Pears and platters of macerated oranges with a cherry liqueur called Maraschino.
Please, do not confuse this with the jars of artificially colored cherries on your supermarket shelves, it is not the same thing.
Maraschino is a fine Italian liqueur made from the pulp and crushed pits of Dalmatian marasca cherries.
These oranges, macerated in lemon and cherry, bring a refreshing and fragrant finish to any meal.
- 2-3 oranges, unpeeled
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 4 tablespoons orange juice
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Maraschino or cherry liqueur
- Using a sharp knife, cut the oranges into slices (no more than 1/2-inch thick).
- In a deep platter, arrange the orange slices.
- In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest and sugar. Sprinkle over the oranges.
- In the same bowl used for zest and sugar, mix the orange juice and lemon juice, pour over fruit.
- Cover the platter with plastic wrap, refrigerate several hours or overnight.
- Before serving, remove plastic wrap, splash on the Maraschino.
- Set out dessert plates, knives and forks and a plate of biscotti.