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How to eat carpaccio

So I ordered a plate of beef carpaccio. It came with a sprinkling of capers, some arugula and half a lemon. The waiter asked if I wanted olive oil and seemed surprised when I declined. (Seemed messy; I was fond of the shirt I was wearing.) He also brought a basket of bread. Was there any particular way I should have eaten this? Other than just...eating it?

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    I like a little drizzle of olive oil.

    1. First time I ordered it the waiter instructed to squeeze lemon over the beef to "cook" it. Tried it on a small piece then dug into the the rest sans lemon. Not sure if it's correct to add the lemon, but seems to defeat the purpose of experiencing exceptional beef. I'd think the olive oil would be a personal choice as well. Maybe more of a dressing for the greens? I'm also sick of seeing arugula pop up on every form of beef.

      Whatever with "it's peppery." So is pepper.

      1. Carpaccio should be eaten wit the best olive oil you can find and with a small (few drop) amount of lemon; but the meat should not be "cooked" by the lemon; only flavored.

        Other than that, just enjoy it.


        1. The olive oil brings out some very unusual flavors in the meat with the saltiness of the capers and the bitterness of the arugula.

          1. Okay, next time I'll get the olive oil. What about putting it all on a piece of bread, as I saw someone do at another table?

            2 Replies
            1. re: Glencora

              IMO, carpaccio et al is a knife and fork dish. I suppose you could tear off a small piece of bread, "compose" your meat, greens etc. on your fork and then "spear" the piece of bread and eat. Seems easier to alternate bites somehow :)

              1. re: Glencora

                I enjoy it on thinly sliced bread, sometimes very lightly toasted (crostini) with a little olive oil and maybe a shaving of parmigiano reggiano or pecorino romano cheese and a few capers.

              2. Having eaten at Harry's Bar in Venice, where Carpaccio was invented, I can assure you that there is only one way to eat it. Your way! That's right. There is nothing to it. You do as you please with what is set down before you. Interestingly, as expensive and "dressy" as Harry's Bar was. The food and service was anything but pretentious. So don't worry about what you're supposed to do. Worry about how fresh it is and how good it tastes. Mangia!

                3 Replies
                  1. re: jscout

                    I might raise an eyebrow if someone picked up a whole slice with their fingers and started chomping away, popping the occasional caper in their mouth :)

                    1. re: c oliver

                      I might like it :) Especially if it was followed by some ancient see-through sliver of cheddar which of course would have slight dropplets of the peppery olive oil :). lol. Eat what you like and how you like it.

                  2. I suppose one can eat anything anyway they choose, anywhere they may be. That, however, does not mean that it is the most advantageous way to enjoy a dish. To me, it would be a waste to eat carpaccio on a piece of bread. The bread is going to mask the flavors and the textures of the dish. But, then again, what would I know, I don't sandwich my sashimi around a slice of pickled ginger and dip it in a soy-wasabi solute either

                    3 Replies
                      1. re: MGZ

                        Right. I know I *can* eat anything in any way I please, but I asked because I want to use proper etiquette -- and get maximum deliciousness.

                        That analogy is slightly painful, actually, because that's the way my MIL eats it and, of course, I can't say anything.

                        1. re: Glencora

                          I was primarily responding to the thread thus far (and trying to inject a bit of levity - sorry about MIL). Otherwise, I say knife and fork, patiently, savor every bite and the way the different flavors come together. A bit of good olive oil and a few drops of lemon are certainly worth trying so as to determine if you'd want them next time.

                      2. To be fair, I've NEVER been offered bread with carpaccio before. That would be weird.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Pincus

                          Exactly! At Harry's Bar, I was just served a plate of carpaccio with a lattice of their special "white" sauce/aioli. And that was it. No capers, no lemon, nothing. Fork, knife, cut, eat. Arrigo Cipriani stopped by himself, as he does with every guest, to see how we liked it. Never so much as raised an eyebrow. He was very warm and gracious, in fact.

                          So technically, the dish presented to the OP was not authentic. If any eyebrows should be raised it should be at the restaurant not the diner. That was my point about saying to eat whatever is presented any way you like. Unless you eat something at the establishment that originated the dish, everything else is a rendition. To that end, it is every establishments responsibility to explain their rendition if necessary.

                          1. re: Pincus

                            It was at a happy hour and everyone who ordered food was given bread and olive oil. In retrospect, it was rather weird and certainly unnecessary. But then a place that offers $5 drinks, $5 pizza, $5 fried calamari and $5 carpaccio is no Harry's Bar.

                          2. I usually make little "taco" out of the slice of meat with the arugula on the inside.

                            1. maybe it's the little kid in me, but when given an array of different sauces/condiments/whatever you want to call them -- I tend to try a bite with each of them, then start playing until I find the combination I like best.

                              1. Ok, I found a picture of carpaccio as I remembered it. Here:

                                Now you tell me, does that dish need any explanation on how to eat it?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: jscout

                                  Nope. Just pick it up whole slices with your fingers and shove it in your mouth :) You know I'm joking.