Antipasti are not essential to the Italian kitchen; a formal Italian dinner without antipasti would not betray the traditions of Italian gastronomy. Today, however, it is difficult to imagine a formal dinner that would not include some dishes classified as antipasto. In the regional Italian kitchen, antipasti are an important element, not on a daily basis, but certainly on holidays and special occasions. Many dishes, served as accompaniments to main courses, are today considered too rich for such use. So, through the years, many of these dishes have been adapted to serve as antipasto. Antipasto takes full advantage of all kinds of different foods not generally regarded as being substantial enough to be served as main courses. The ingredients may be varied, but generally they must all be eaten with a fork.
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