A writer friend of mine had this suggestion for writing about Italy:  Take lots of food pictures and document the food.

I took lots of blurry food pictures.  And it took all my energy to document our daily activities, so all I did with the food was eat it.

So I can speak only generally about the food we ate in Italy.  Here goes:

  • the food was fresh and prepared simply.  There was never an abundance of sauce and cheese (my downfalls).  You could taste all the food because it wasn’t swimming in anything.  Any spices were carefully added just to enhance the flavour of the dish.
  • the Italians eat Italian food.  Period.  We saw one sushi place in all our travels, and food from other countries was in short supply.  There was the occassional kebob place that was populated by non-Italians.  But that’s it. The food illustrated that Italy is a rather homogenous country.
  • Pasta is indeed essential.  We often say, what kind of food do we feel like? when we are deciding where to eat out.  Vietnamese, sushi, pizza?  In Italy, we would say – let’s go out for pasta!
  • Breakfast was a little cappuccino or espresso and a cream croissant.
  • Speaking of coffee, there are no take-away coffee places.  You either stand at the bar (and pay less) or sit down with your cappuccino.  You do not leave the premises.  There are no take-away cups.  There are no huge mugs of coffee or latte.  The Starbucks mentality has not and will not hit Italy.
  • For us, lunch was a panini (sandwich) later in the afternoon.  We did not get a handle on eating our big meal at lunch.  Some of the paninis were stellar (note the picture with the green plates – those are all panini fillings!), and others were not (white crustless bread with a slice of processed ham and mayonnaise?  Yuck!).  Also, panini just means sandwich, not grilled sandwich like we think of it in Canada.
  • Ah, dinner.  What a burden that the biggest decision we had to make on holidays was what restaurant to pick.  We ate pasta.  Carbonara, all silky smooth.  With homemade pesto.  With cream citrus sauce with little bits of orange rind in it.  Homemade by me with fresh tomatoes, garlic, onion, and the highest quality olive oil.  It was so good.  Pizza on thin crusts with a skiff of sauce and cheese.  Deep fried artichokes.  Roast chicken.  Duck.  Veal.  Salty salads. Brown coloured tough sourdough bread.
  • I think our favourite course was antipasto.  Because everywhere you went, it was different.  Melt-in-your-mouth buffalo mozzarella balls.  Lots of salami.  Soft goat cheese with honey drizzled on top.  Lightly cooked string beans.  Cold roasted peppers.  Eggs with onions.  It went on and on and on.
  • Desserts were surprisingly undecadent.  We ate one perfect pot of tiramisu, but normally we’d skip the little slices of unadorned tortes and picked up a gelati on the street on the way back to our guest house.  In Florence, it was warm waffles with Nutella on the street.  Yum.

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