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Refueling the Roman Way
Staggering under the weight of a succession of three-course meals, you may ask yourself, how do the Romans eat so much, twice a day, every day? The answer is, they don't.
If you want to do as the Romans do, try lunch at a tavola calda (literally, hot table), a cross between a caffè and a cafeteria where you'll find fresh food in manageable portions.
There's usually a selection of freshly prepared pastas, cooked vegetables such as bietola all'agro (cooked beet greens with lemon), roasted potatoes, and grilled or roasted meat or fish.
Go to the counter to order an assortment and quantity that suits your appetite, and pay by the plate, usually about EUR 5 plus drinks. Tavole calde aren't hard to find, particularly in the city center, often marked with "tavola calda" or "self-service" signs.
The other ubiquitous options for a light lunch or between-meal snack are pizza al taglio (by the slice) shops, bars, and enoteche (wine bars). At bars throughout Italy, coffee is the primary beverage served (drinking establishments are commonly known as pubs or American bars); at them you can curb your appetite with a panino (a simple sandwich) or tramezzino (sandwich on untoasted white bread, usually heavy on the mayonnaise).
Wine bars vary widely in the sophistication and variety of food available. You can count on cheese and cured meats at the very least.
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