I'm 1/4 Italian, but you'd never know it. Unfortunately, my genetic makeup was not graced with the golden brown skin tone that most self-respecting Italians boast. In fact, I'm about as pale as they come. Last weekend, I got extremely sunburned by sitting on the beach for just one hour while wearing a ungodly amount of sunscreen. How is that even possible?

While I have endured many an awful sunburn in my short 22 years of life, I still go to the beach and lie out without an umbrella shielding me from the sun's harsh rays. Why? I think it's because I have this irrational belief that one day, I will have the coveted olive-toned skin like my half-Italian mother. One day.

Italy is beautiful, and its cuisine is undoubtedly one of the most popular in the world. While most people think of Italian food as pizza and pasta, it's much more than that. In fact, ingredients and dishes vary greatly by region, drawing influences from local produce, climate, and neighboring countries. One word that characterizes all Italian food is this: simplicity. Italian cooks pride themselves on the quality of their ingredients rather than the quantity.

There are 9 different courses in an Italian meal. Most meals consist of just 3 or 4, mind you. Otherwise, Italians would have no time for anything but cooking and eating, not to mention they would weigh considerably more than they do now. Below, I've laid out an Italian summer entertaining menu with a recipe for each of the 9 courses. Make all of them, or pick a few that you like and start from there. I am partial to affogato al caffè, which is simply vanilla ice cream with espresso poured over. Dip your biscotti in there and, trust me, it doesn't get much better.


Digestivo: Rosemary LimoncelloP.S. If you're wondering where my pale skin comes from, you can blame my father's side. My husband lovingly says that I look "100% British." I'm actually 1/4 British, so I guess there's not much I can do about that, except mourn my utter lack of an English accent. I guess America truly is a melting pot, yeah?