01 02 03 Life, Unconditionally: Food Is Where the Heart Is 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Food Is Where the Heart Is

I have officially been in Italy for one week.  Yay!  Hopefully I’ll have more opportunities to explore and take pictures soon.

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about my diet.  And the average American versus Italian diet in general.  Let me being point out, before I go any further, that I am a picky eater.  A VERY picky eater.  As in, the chances of you finding someone who is a pickier eater than me are slim to none. 

Unless they are on some variation of a diet, most Americans eat three decent sized meals a day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Dinner is usually the largest meal of the day.  Italians, however, do not eat three meals a day.  Breakfast barely exists here.  For most people, it is simply an espresso to get their days going.  Some venture out to have some sort of sweet bread, usually a croissant - I really wouldn’t even consider that a breakfast.  Lunch is the largest meal of the day.  There is a lot to eat at dinnertime as well, but not quite as much as for lunch.  Italians also eat meals later in the day.  At the earliest lunch and dinner begin at 1pm and 8pm, respectively.  Personally, I love having dinner later in the day, though I don’t really have any specific reasoning as to why I prefer it. 

For some reason there are foods that I have eaten since being here that I would never willingly eat in America.  And I’m not talking about complex dishes or specialties – I’m talking about food such as zucchini, vegetable soup, and hamburger.  The real kicker?  I actually like them.  In my defense, the hamburger meat here is not ground up quite like in America, and I am very much about the texture of my food.  Plus, there is all of the olive oil to consider.  Literally, everything is cooked with olive oil.  The only time anything is cooked with butter is if someone is specifically making buttered noodles.  Olive oil is slowly becoming my new best friend.

I’ve also had the chance to observe the mother when she cooks some of our meals because she likes to use that opportunity for us to speak in English together. (She very determined to improve her English so as to benefit her daughter while growing up)  Not only do I enjoy watching her cook, but I have also learned how to make some of the dishes that my Italian nonna made for me four years ago when I was a foreign exchange student!  Really though, it’s a great feeling.  Plus, it’s a lot easier for me to ask questions about Italian food now, because the mother speaks decent English and my Italian is loads better than it was four years ago (aka nonexistent). 

For Italians, food is not simply what makes up their diets - it is what makes up their lifestyle.  Their lives revolve around food.  That might be part of the reason I love it here so much…  And why the Mediterranean lifestyle/diet is one of the most revered in the world.  Great, now I’m craving pizza.

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