After living in Italy for four months, my eating habits have definitely changed dramatically. I heard about the food culture before I came to Italy, but things are much different when you experience them for yourself. I was excited to try new foods and really immerse myself in Italian food. Not only is the food itself different, but also the way of eating and preparing food is definitely different from the way things are in the U.S. Hence, here are some things to know about Italian food!
Simple, fresh, and amazing
The food in Italy can be described with three simple words: simple, fresh, and amazing. Every dish I have had in Italy so far has pleasantly surprised me. I have found myself looking forward to my next meal, and feeling sad if I know I have to cook for myself. I love eating out in Italy and trying all of their specialties from the different regions. Each part of Italy is known for a different food product; varying from different types of pasta, meats, cheeses, fish, grains, olives, pastries, and of course, wine. Eating pizza in Napoli was one of my favorite food moments in Italy. Napoli’s pizza is special because people in Napoli use sea water to make their famous pizza, which contains an extra dash of Mediterranean salt that cannot be recreated easily. In Rome, my favorite local dishes are suppli, carbonara, croissants, lasagna, and of course, gelato. Finding these local fresh foods is especially easy in Italy, because there are open air food markets in piazzas all around the country. It is also easy to eat healthy in Italy as they do not use preservatives. There is fresh food everywhere, and one of the best fresh produce markets is a five-minute walk from my apartment. If you’re ever in Rome, you must visit the Testaccio market, which is famous for putting a modern twist on the old-style open-air markets
Appreciating food: Italian food culture
Italian food culture is very different from food culture in the U.S. because Italian people take their time for everything. Italians use fresh products that are never frozen, and this means that it can take a lot of time for your food to be prepared. It is typical to order several courses and to eat them slowly in Italy. They believe that food must be appreciated and this appreciation can only be done over a longer period of time. Italians also use dinners as a way to socialize and get together with family. Dinners usually start at around nine o’clock at night and can go on for hours. Having dinners in Italy really gives us the opportunity to connect with not only our company, but also with the local food and the culture embedded in it.
My love of Italian food will go on
During my time abroad, I found it very easy to eat healthy while still enjoying Italian desserts daily. One cannot simply live in Italy and not eat gelato, tiramisu, or a cannoli multiple times a week. Italians must feel the same way, because you will always spot someone eating gelato on the street no matter where you are. Gelato shops line the streets and the ease of acquiring good gelato is one of the things I will miss the most when I return to America. Italian food has always been my favorite, and nothing compares to a fresh Italian dish prepared in Rome. After my time abroad, I will surely change my diet and incorporate more fresh options, as the freshness of food really does make all the difference.
Feeling curious about eating abroad? Read other blog posts from Italy or about Food!