So, let me explain to you what food in Italy is like and why I am so enamored by it.
It appears that preparing, eating and talking about food is what comprises the majority of time in this beautiful and ancient country. The Italians are lively and talkative and have a zest for life that is palpable. They really LOVE FOOD and know how to savor it!
Imagine 3 courses of homemade, from scratch foods, at each and every lunch and dinner when eating out. And if a meal is prepared for the family at home, meals (other than breakfast) are often an extravaganza.
Typically, Pizza is a first course, especially in the southern Compania area of the country, as Naples is the place where pizza was first created.
The pie that it is famous for, called the Marguerite, has a thin crust, a simple marinara sauce and embellished with Buffalo mozzarella, fresh tomatoes and basil. Quite tasty, although I preferred what they called a Stuffed Pizza which was basically a Calzone.
Pasta is typically a second course, served with plain marinara sauce or an olive oil with herbs. Shell fish such as clams, mussels or octopus are often included.
There was always at least a couple of dishes served with fresh made pasta.....Heavenly.
Did I mention that the southern coast and Naples is known for it's Buffalo Mozzarella?
Yes, made with milk from the buffalo, and it is Molto delizioso !!
The texture and taste is light years better than what we get here in the states. Another good reason to visit Italy again.......soon.
Protein is the third course, comprised of seafood, beef or chicken. This portion is relatively small, only a few ounces, compared to large portions of the pizza and pasta.
Soups and Salads are also found on menus. My all time favorite salad without a doubt was the Caprese, named after the Isle of Capris, comprised of perfectly ripened tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil and a tantalizing balsamic vinegar.
Although there was not a lot of attention paid to side vegetables, the Italians do serve cooked greens and they adore mushrooms and use them liberally.
Desserts were always beautiful, delicious and well crafted, including the famous chocolate dipped gelato ball called Tartufo , created originally in Rome.
As fabulous as my Tartufo was, I was most excited to get my favorite of all Italian pastries, sfogilotelle.
The crispy and flaky exterior, wrapped around a ricotta and citrus filling is found
in every cafe and bakery we passed, ranging in size from a single bite to plate size. All of them were exceptional in flavor and better than any I have had.
I would be remiss to not mention Gelato in my food meanderings.
Gelato is lower in fat than ice cream and typically contains 70% less air and more flavoring than other kinds of frozen desserts giving it a density and richness that distinguishes it from other ice creams. Italians truly love their gelato. My favorite is the Hazelnut.......hands down!
So there it is in a nut shell. Italians love food and give themselves the time to eat and enjoy it, and that's why I LOVE Italy and will most certainly return.