In Italy, dinner begins with antipasto, the appetizer. There are no rules about the combinations of food included in an antipasto but the preparation of an attractive antipasto plate requires in-genuity. Its taste and colour appeal depend on the variety of foods as well as on their arrangement.
Lettuce and sliced fennel, for example, used as a green and white border will improve the appearance of even a simple selection of celery, radishes, small pickled beets, salami and anchovies. To this platter a few large green and/or black olives and strips of brilliant pimiento can be added.
Another typical Italian antipasto would include pickled mushrooms, halved or sliced hard-boiled eggs, tuna fish roe, lettuce, and very thin slices of prosciutto, Italian ham.
Small pickled green peppers, artichoke hearts, pimiento strips, slices of fennel, sliced dry pork sausage and anchovy fillets would be another delicious combination.
When the choice of foods has been made and the serving plate arranged, it is customary to pour a little olive oil and a very small quantity of wine vinegar over the food.