I am in a country with cuisine that is widely regarded as the best in the world. So let’s talk about food. I mean, besides all the food I already talked about. Let’s talk MORE about food. Everyone loves food.
After visiting a few local pizzerias, restaurants, trattorias, and agroturismi, it’s easy to see why Italian food holds a special place in so many hearts. The fresh, local ingredients. The lovingly handcrafted dough and pasta. The creamy, flavorful sauces. The pizza, ragazzi. They will put anything on pizza here. Literally anything. Figs. Tuna. Eggplant. In any and every combination. Pizzeria menus here are multiple pages, some with 30+ options. And you do not get a pizza or two for the table to split, oh no. Each person has their own, and “personal pizza” size here is 12″+ in diameter. Maybe my next post will be about going to the gym.
Side note: the best pizza I’ve had so far was the one I made myself. The pizzaiolo made sure it was stretched out correctly, but I put the toppings on!
The one less-than-optimal thing about the local restaurants is that they are on the Italian schedule. This means that if you’re hungry between the hours of 1:00 and 3:00 or before 7:00 pm or on a Sunday or Monday… tough luck. Everything is closed. EVERYTHING is closed. Even convenience stores. Your only option is the vending machines. Luckily, there are plenty of vending machines for coffee (the coffee culture will have to be a post in itself).
Of course, you could always make food at home. The produce in the grocery stores is fresh, high-quality stuff, too. So much so that if you touch it with your bare hands you will be yelled at! Or at least looked at funny. Here, you have to put on a plastic glove before bagging your produce. It’s sanitary or something.
The downside to home cooking is that everything goes bad SO fast. If I don’t use my produce in 2-3 days, I have a stinky fridge. After a week of classes and after-school activities, I had to throw away pretty much all my perishables. I know that the food is better and healthier without all the preservatives that we put into it in the States, but man is it inconvenient to go to the grocery store every other day.
I guess that is the main difference in Italian and American food: quality vs. convenience.
Luckily, at CIMBA, we have a last resort that varies highly in both quality and convenience: the cafeteria. Sometimes the meals are exceptional. Sometimes, I think they take whatever leftovers they have and throw it on top of some pasta. Either way, it’s convenient for lunchtime.
And then there are the highest quality meal: those cooked by a local in his or her own kitchen. I have been lucky enough to get a few of those in my time here. They cannot be beat. One word of advice: stay the hell out of their kitchen, or you may not survive to enjoy the meal.
Italians are serious about their food.
Other foodie adventures so far: I tried fried gelato! It’s not as good as Mom’s deep-fried ice cream, but still worth it. I was really missing burgers, so I ordered one at the local bar. Either it was really good, or I was really drunk. We had sushi! Finally! I’ve missed it so much. It wasn’t as good as in the states, but it was still nice to mix things up. Ah, and Indian food. So good.