Monday, February 21, 2011

What I Learned In Italy About Food...

Honestly, every region of Italy has its own style of cooking, but I'll stick with what I experienced. Rome (Roma). Florence (Firenze). Two cities where you can get some of the best cuisine in the world, often for a song and dance. However, that wasn't the case with us. We spent our Euros with fervor and I'd do it all again with no regrets.

The main thing I learned was to eat, drink, and do plenty of walking. It's the main reason Italian women look so fabulous. They eat normally (in other words, they eat anything they like) and walk everywhere, thus the reason there are no obese people (aside from tourists) in Italy. It's a concept that Americans might want to try, considering our fat statistics. All women in Rome eat Gelato and remain slender because they walk. And let me just say that I was in better shape than I've ever been on this trip. Sadly, I lost 3 additional pounds in Italy but I've gained 5 pounds since I returned. Uh-Huh. Now, what was I saying? Oh yes. Walk a lot. Eat a lot. Play a lot. Life as a thin person is really just that easy.

Anyhoo, we rented a flat in Rome, which meant we did a lot of walking, then taxi rides when our feet were too swollen to move any further. Still, the food was just one of many of the highlights of the trip. Unfortunately, I was often too consumed with said food or wine to take pictures, much less remember the names of the places. Luckily, our downstairs neighbor Gino invited us to dinner at his flat 3 times and took us out sightseeing one night. 

It was a magical trip, really. Gino (who is somewhere between 75 and 80 years old and Sicilian) is a marvelous chef and made us some of the best meals we had in Rome. He also made his own Limoncello, which I couldn't seem to get enough of. Gino was once a very famous journalist working out of Rome, but limits himself to family and politics now. We did not even attempt to discuss politics. I don't even like discussing politics with people I know, much less with someone I have a language barrier with. Instead, we spoke about our children and our spouses, as we struggled to communicate with our broken versions of one another's languages.

Oddly enough, one our best meals was at the Villa Borghese, where they have a lovely little bistro. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take cameras in, so I can't show what we had, but it was the most delightful thin pizza ever. Thankfully, we were able to take pictures of the Villa Borghese Gallery grounds. There were herbs and fruits growing everywhere. I mean, check out the size of those limettas (limes).

Another very memorable meal was in Florence at a bistro called Acqua Al 2 (Due). Florence actually has some of the finest beef in the world and we had *life changing steaks* that night that were served with a balsamic reduction sauce that was truly to live for.

From our rooftop terrace, we could see all of South Rome and we had fresh herbs for cooking, which was such a treat! We had an adorable little kitchen and were only 2 blocks from the Supermercato, where they had everything we could ever possibly need. Also, I hit the corner cafe every morning for my much needed espresso. It was really interesting staying away from the tourist traps. We were able to much better experience the real life Romans live.

After some minor adjustments to our surroundings, my friend and I began to settle in within a couple of days. We found that our terrace was the most delightful place of all to be, listening to the radio as they cranked out the tunes each night. After long days of sightseeing, we were most content to retire to our little rooftop veranda. Then, we'd retire to the 2 sofas with our feet above our heads. Yes, the stumps were truly that swollen. Neither of us ever slept in the bedroom because we needed elevation. Go. Figure.

We both fell in love with the Bufala (Water Buffalo) Mozzarella, with its rich, creamy texture and mild flavor. It made for dynamite Bruschetta. I fell totally head-over-heels for the Gelato. Ice cream always just kills my teeth, but not Gelato. I could eat gallons of it and it's around every corner everywhere in Italy! Then, there's my whole obsession with homemade Limoncello. If I drank it all the time I'd weigh at 250 pounds and/or my teeth would all fall out. Never in my life have I eaten so much or so well. So, basically, you could say I learned that good food cannot and should not be rushed. La dolce vita! I can hardly wait to return....