Al fresco

Written by Becky

Dining “alfresco” in Greece is the norm and something I became quite accustomed to on my trip. In fact I don’t think I ate a single meal at a restaurant in doors. I have always preferred eating outside. As I think about it, my favorite local restaurants are mostly ones that have the option of outdoor seating: Purple Sage, Ruth’s Diner, Silver Fork Lodge, Sage Cafe, Porcupine Grill. My trip just furthered this fetish and now I want to eat all meals outdoors! I am imagining eating my morning cereal at a small table in my backyard even. I wish I had a backyard! All that to say, I fell more in love with outdoor dining on my trip. In efforts to sound more intellectual on my blog I looked up the work al fresco, first to see if it was spelled right, and also to see its origin. This is what I found out:
Its origins are Italian – and it literally means ‘in the fresh’. Either ‘in the open air’ or, where specifically related to mural painting – ‘in the fresh plaster’. It can be hyphenated, spelled with a space or without a space. In Italian, the phrase actually means “in jail”, quite opposite of “in the air,” but it has been adopted in the English language to be used in relation to eating outdoors. They didn’t say what happened to make this drastic change but I’ll leave that up to your imagination. The phrase has been used since the 18th century. For example, in Mrs. Eliza Haywood’s History of Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy, 1753: “It was good for her ladyship’s health to be thus alfresco.” (Yes! I agree.) The second part of the word, fresco, comes from Frescos, paintings that are painted on walls and ceilings, in plaster that is not quite dry, so that the paint is absorbed into the surface layer. Probably the most celebrated example is Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. Which brings it all together for me- fresh air, sharing a meal and wine, AND Jesus of course. I love alfresco!

I will leave you with some images of Greek dining. I hope they encourage you to get outside and have a long relaxing meal surrounded by fresh air and shared with good company.



A Roof Top Cafe overlooking the Acropolis. (sorry the photo came out so dark)

Comments (1)

  1. I love that you confessed to looking up “al fresco” for the spelling and meaning :) I, too, wish I could eat breakfast (or any meal) outside in my backyard!

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