Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Italian Meal

Lunch aftermath.

Three important things I learned in the past few days: 

1. Don't watch a movie about being stranded at sea on a tiny raft while you're flying over the Atlantic Ocean.  Thanks a lot, Pi, for making my heart rate 190 BPM for the past 10 hours. 

2. If you are afraid of getting hit by a car, don't go to Rome, ever.  Most of the crosswalks don't have lights and the traffic is akin to New York City, except drivers (seem to) go twice as fast.  Basically, you just have to jump off the curb and hope that people will slam on their brakes before turning you into a pancake.  Or you can be like me and wait for someone else to cross the street and scoot right next to them. 

3. Always bring an extra fold up suitcase when you're traveling. Duh.  I'm pretty sure when I sat on my suitcase to try and zip, it caused a black pepper and sesame blend I was smuggling home to explode all over everything.

This past week I was lucky enough to travel to Florence and Rome and I had some pretty excellent food adventures.  I've had enough gelato, pizza, and cheese to last me a month -- which is fortunate, because my wedding is six weeks away and I'll be eating spinach and water only from now until then.  I couldn't possibly put all of the tasty things I ate into one post, so I'll have to split it up.  I was too cheap to buy internet access at our apartment in Florence, so this is going to be a slight delayed reaction. 

There was so much amazing food and so many amazing meals in Italy that I decided to do a few topical blog posts to outline some of my favorite eats. In case you are 0% Italian (like yours truly), I thought I'd write a bit about the experience of the Italian meal -- because I had no idea how many different elements were involved! Luckily, I only read tourism books focused on food, so I wasn't entirely blindsided. 

The Italian meal… oh boy.  I seriously can't imagine how Italian people eat so much food and stay so skinny. I never saw anyone eating breakfast, with the exception of espresso shots (which you drink standing… DRIVE BY CAFFEINE!) 

Antipasto - the best versions of this usually involve prosciutto, a giant blob of mozzarella cheese, and some sort of grilled or marinated vegetable (artichokes, please).  Other taste examples include bruschetta or crostini.  Oh, and in case you wanted me to solve an age old debate - it's officially pronounced "bru-SKET-ta"  and not "bru-SHEH-ta"… the latter is the name of a famous Italian mob boss. 


Primi - Pasta dishes.  Specialities vary regionally -- in Florence, wild boar ragout was on almost every menu.  Rome is famous for cacao e pepe, which is a simple but delicious spaghetti with cheese, pepper, and tons of oil. 

Secondi - Lots of meat, especially in tuscan cuisine.  Bisteca Florentine, a huge t-bone steak, is popular and fairly absurd.  The minimum size is 1kg -- 2.2 pounds.  

Contorni - vegetables and salads. served along side the meal. 

Cantucci and Vin Santo - this was served at many places we ate.  It's a dessert wine to dip biscotti in -- I don't think you're actually supposed to drink it, but rather suck it out of the cookie


Dolci - dessert.  Cheesecake, napoleons, and panna cotta were on most menus. 


As you can see, this is quite an ambitious undertaking! Our really ambitious meals ended with grappa or limoncello and some espresso. 


Limoncello: not just for ladies.   Stay tuned for some highlights from my amazing vacation.  Ciao! 

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