Italian Fast Food

24 hours days aren’t what they used to be. Hours spin in a blur of color, sound and flavor. Life as I know it—thanks to the opportunities this blog continues to offer me—is morphing into something wonderfully different.

With my new job as a columnist for the LA Weekly’s on-line food section called Squid Ink (home to the nation’s only Pulitzer Prize winning food journalist, Jonathan Gold!), waiting tables a few nights a week and multiple freelance writing gigs, there’s a lot to accomplish in one day. Consequently, sleep has become a luxury. Coffee is a non-negotiable necessity. And lately—here’s the shocker—I’ve gotten so busy I barely have enough time to eat.

Fast food for foodies

Granted, lots of food lovers have secret fast food indulgences. In-n-Out is definitely one of mine. But in terms of being good to my body and the world around me, pulling up to a drive thru window on a regular basis just isn’t an option. Protein bars are good in a pinch, but the act of devouring a meal replacement bar may quiet my stomach but it tends to put me in a bit of a sour mood.

In truth, my idea of great fast food is a slice of great bread with a small bowl of oil-soaked sardines sprinkled with red wine vinegar and radishes. But after several weeks of eating my way through many cans of sardines, I knew it was time to expand my fast food repertoire.

Dinon Alimentare

I recently discovered Dinon Alimentare’s line of marinated seafood salads at the seafood department at my local Whole Foods. Beautiful white anchovy filets and golden jewels of marinated mussels from Italy’s coast had me intrigued. The less than $9 price tag got me buying.

I love toasting bread and dropping a couple tender anchovy fillets over the top. I like to toss the marinated mussels* in with some greens and heirloom tomatoes. The calamari salad travels well in its sealed container and is a perfect addition to an outdoor picnic.

With a couple of Dinon seafood containers in the fridge and a beautiful loaf of bread on my counter, I’ve got ready to go meals in just seconds.

The quality of the ingredients and care that the people at Italian based-Dinon Alimentare take to prepare their marinated seafood salads has me thinking that the Italians really do know how to make food–even fast, prepared food–sexy. I may not like the words “prepared packaged foods” but I certainly do love saying the company’s motto: “Freschezza pronta in tavola.”Freshness brought to the table fast? Who doesn’t like that?

*sometimes the Dinon mussels need a little more de-bearding. I take the extra few seconds to trim that off. Otherwise, they’re just perfect.


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Food Woolf Written by:

Brooke Burton is an Los Angeles-based restaurant professional and hospitality expert. She is a freelance food writer, speaker, and co-author of The Food Blog Code of Ethics.


  1. Phil
    July 14

    Great post, Brooke.

    I saw the picture of the Dinon anchovy filets and my eyes lit up. I found them at my Italian deli last year and bought a few containers for appetizers for a dinner party. They were fantastic – tasting almost like they had been pickled.

    I'll keep my eyes peeled for the mussels. This is definitely fast food I can stand behind.

  2. Gastronomer
    July 14

    Thanks for the tasty idea! I'm always looking for quick and EZ dinners for those lazy nights.

  3. Leah
    July 15

    I love it. I've looked at those salads dozens of times and never bit. Now I'm going to have to try. Your pal scratch has been looking for some quick, easy, no-cooking options lately too. Thanks!

  4. Steve
    July 15

    Dinon does put out good product. But don't knock the cheap can of sardines, packed in soybean oil. With a fresh bagel and a few slices of raw onion, those cheap sardines are rather tasty.

  5. matt
    July 16

    lovely stuff. we have similar ideas of great fast food! mine always revolves around small oily fish!!

    I am gonna have to look and see if my local WF has them now. they sound lovely.

  6. Jennifer
    July 17

    Congrats on your new columnist gig! That's exciting news!

    I'll keep an eye out for these Dinon meals. I'm often dining alone and will appreciate these "fancier" prepared packaged lovelies.

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