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Take Your Time!

Often, when I was eating as a child, my mother would say, "Take your time!" in a sing song Italian accent. This was one of her sayings and whilst my younger self would roll my eyes, at not only the fake accent, but also the idea, my mother was in fact right. Growing up, my mum would take me for lunch on a Saturday to an Italian restaurant called Lucianos in the city of Cardiff. I have vivid and fond memories of this little place, up a side alley and off the beaten track of the bustling main high street.

The place would be packed on the weekend, with waiters in white shirts weaving their way between tables, topping up carafes of water, providing dishes full of butter in ice for the fresh rolls and serving you delicious authentic meals from incredible pizzas through to the best lasagne. It was always a treat and felt like you had been transported to a little corner of Italy, with the sounds of Julio Iglesias piped through the sound system (even though he is Spanish!) and Luciano himself (I presumed) coming out of the kitchen to chat with the regulars.

The saying my mother would frequently use came from this place - the waiters would often say "Take your time!" but in real Italian sing song. They wanted you to relax and enjoy your meal, soak up the atmosphere and eat as much as you could! And, of course, the Italians know a thing or two about sitting and eating and drinking, watching the world go by and savouring the moment.

Family, time together and taking your time over a meal is at the heart of Italian cuisine and culinary etiquette. There is a slowness to what they do. In fact, it is the birthplace of the slow food movement, where in 1986 Carlo Petrini and a group of activists demonstrated on the Spanish Steps in Rome against the proposal of a McDonald's on the site. The slow food movement aims to preserve time honoured traditions of food and have three concepts of food as part of their manifesto: GOOD: quality, flavoursome and healthy food. CLEAN: production that does not harm the environment. FAIR: accessible prices for consumers and fair conditions and pay for producers.