In Rome with Mary Cecere
Let’s talk food.
Italy has amazing food! It’s an understatement to say just that because you do NOT understand until you come here. Everything is delicious from caprese salad to gnocchi to gelato. It is all so incredibly yummy! I do not have a favorite food in particular because there are too many to choose from. I went to Naples a few weekends ago. Not only is it where my grandfather’s side of the family comes from but pizza was invented there! I should mention that pizza is different all over Italy: Rome pizza has a very thin crust and Naples has a doughier crust. Don’t get me wrong, Rome pizza is awesome but Naples pizza (true pizza, you could say) is life changing. I got pizza con melanzane which is eggplant pizza. The sauce was deliciously sweet and clumps of mozzarella with marinated eggplant on top garnished with basil. I want it right now just thinking about it.
What some people do not know though is the great respect Italy has for food and meals. In the words of my Italian teacher, “Il pranzo è sacra.” Translated it means “Lunch is sacred.” This could not be more true. Do not expect to go get your hair cut, enter some of the major churches, or shop in local boutiques between 1 and 3 pm. They are closed for lunch. Something that we almost never see in the U.S. A work lunch break, if you even get one, are usually a 15-30 minute break to eat something quick and get back to work. Every meal is an experience here, especially dinner. TIP: Do not go to get dinner in Italy before 7:30 pm! Dinner time is usually between 8 or 10 pm. Wine is almost always drunk at dinner time. It’s customary to order three dishes: antipasti, primo, and secondo. The first is an appetizer, then usually a pasta dish followed by a hearty dish of meat or seafood. It is mind boggling to me how Italians eat this way and remain so thin! Craziness. When out to dinner the waiter will never rush you and usually leaves you be for the majority of your dinner. My friends and I can spend hours at a restaurant eating, talking, and relaxing. It’s a great change from the fast paced lifestyle of the U.S.
My favorite cultural attitude for food I experienced in the Umbria town of Orvieto. Orvieto is a wonderful little town situated on the top of a cliff, it’s positively picturesque. A movement that Orvieto as a town participates in is the “Slow Food” movement. It is exactly the opposite of everything McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and other fast food restaurants represent. Most of if not all of the food found in Orvieto has been grown, raised, baked, or slaughtered within roughly a 15 mile radius. The food is incredibly fresh! They do not cut corners when it comes to quality of food and they keep everything local.
I have many wonderful experiences to take a way from Italy. I hope to integrate the Italian love of fresh, local, and quality food into my every day life. Also, that it is really important to spend a meal relaxing and enjoying that time with the people around you. Life’s short so eat well, take your time, and enjoy every moment.