You’re eating a wonderful dinner in an atmospheric little osteria, overlooking a bustling piazza. The
service was good, the meal was excellent, and you’re rather pleased about your choice of travel destination. The food has been so rich and flavourful that you don’t even mind that you’re going to have to loosen your belt a notch when you get back home. Totally worth the extra kilometres on the treadmill.
“Hai finito di mangiare? Perché non fai la scarpetta?” Your waiter asks you, gesturing to your plate, which is empty but for a puddle of sauce.
You translate his questions in your head, proud of your ever-increasing Italian language skills. “Have you finished eating? Why don’t you do the little shoe?” WHAT?! Is that some sort of “I’m happy to have finished eating” dance? The Hokey Pokey, Italian style, to immediately burn off all the delicious calories you’ve consumed?
At the end of a meal, or the end of one course in a meal, you’ll often see Italians mopping up excess sauce from their plates with a small piece of bread, then popping it into their mouth. That small, simple piece of sauce-soaked pane is like the encore number, after the grand finale that is the last bite. To do this is to “fare la scarpetta”. And while you’ll see many Italians doing it during a meal with friends, try to refrain if you’re meeting the President of the Republic or something. “Doing the little shoe” has no place at a formal Italian table.