Restaurants in Italy, however, always have fresh ripe fruit available. One of my favorite dinner rituals in Italy is to order frutta fresca for dessert. It usually comes with a bowl of cold water so that you can dip and refresh the fruits. The assortment will vary with the season, but you can expect apples, pears, and citrus in the cold months and peaches, grapes, plums, apricots, and cherries in the warm months. The fruit bowl dessert is unlimited, so you can eat as much as you like. Berries are ordered separately. They are most often served either doused with lemon and sugar or topped with a scoop of ice cream or lemon sorbet. Zabaglione (see Fruit, Ice Cream, and Spoon Desserts), a rich and creamy Marsala-infused custard, is also very good on fresh berries, but I have seen it more in the United States than in Italy. Very large fruits like pineapple (although not native to Italy) and melons are served cut into wedges.
Italians eat a lot of fruit salads and cooked fruit desserts, too. The fruits are excellent, because they are in season and locally grown. Instead of having to endure long trips over thousands of miles in refrigerator trucks, fruits are picked ripe and quickly brought from the fields to nearby markets.
From "1,000 Italian Recipes." Copyright 2004 by Michele Scicolone. Used with permission of the publisher, Wiley Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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