Saturday, June 4, 2011

Eating in Italy

Food in Italy deserves it's own blog, so here it is....

Food here is an experience. Whether it be grabbing a panini from a storefront shop, or enjoying a four course meal, eating in Italy is something to be enjoyed. I think of how at home, i am often rushing from one place to the next and find myself at a drive-thru, or i grab something for lunch and eat at my desk while i'm multitasking. Rarely do i have the opportunity to sit down and enjoy the experience and culture of eating.

Needless to say, here in Italy, it's a different story.

And what we know as Italian food, is not what they serve here. Let me explain.

For example, pizza as we know it does not exist here. Pizza here is typically a thin crust, with light sauce and just a small amount of cheese. Everything is in moderation. According to the walking tour we did the first day we were in town, to find the best pizza means to find someone from Naples, where pizza was born. Evidently, there is one such pizza maker a few blocks from my house. And i have to say, it is pretty good.

The typical Italian meal is served in several courses. First, you have a starter, or what we would call an appetizer. My favorites here are bruschetta, prosciutto and melon and caprese salad. Then it's on to the first course, pasta. Here, i love gnocchi and lasagna. But there lasagna is very different from ours - lots of layers of very thin pasta with light amounts of sauce, just enough to provide some moisture between the pasta and cheese. Heavenly. Then it's on to the second course. Most of the time, i never order a second course, as it is simply too much food. But the other night, we had a welcome dinner with the students where they did a proper 4 course meal. I was absolutely stuffed full by the end of that meal - there was soooo much food!

Sometimes there is even a side dish of veggies. I had to take a picture of this event. By that i mean, my kid, who never eats veggies at home, has willingly and eagerly eaten both green beans and carrots since we've been here. Who is this person and what did you do with my kid. I hope this is a trend that continues!

Then of course, there is the wine. Wine is a religion here. We had a fabulous red wine at our welcome dinner. Those of you who know me, know that i am not a big red wine drinker. It just is always too, i don't know what the word is here, too bitter for me. It's like the aftertaste zaps back at you. Not on this night. This stuff was so smooth, i drank like half the bottle (and being the good recyclers that they are, and not wanting to waste anything, my students gladly finished of the bottle at our table). In looking at the bottle, turns out it's nothing special in terms of type of wine, just basic red table wine.

Even Keegan got caught up in the party of it all. Cheers! Hey, it's a lesson in culture!

Then of course, there is gelato. Oh and cannoli's too, which are awsome here. Ah, but gelato as you know by now, holds a special place in my heart. And belly...and ass and thighs - HA! With so many places and flavors to choose from, how does one choose. In San Gimignano, there is a store there that claims to be the best gelato in the world. It's a hard call, but i think i like my little neighhood place better. Although they did have some rockin' flavors, like white chocolate. No, in my neighborhood, we have a place called Grom, which is well known for being one of the best because they use all natural and fresh ingredients. As you can see, it has quite the following. This is actually a short line....

Luckily, we do lots of walking here to balance out the food extravaganza!

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