It’s no secret that the Italians know how to cook. How many dishes do we dream about back home that are staples in the Italian cuisine? Cappuccino, espresso, spaghetti, gnocchi, ravioli, tortellini, risotto, panini, bread, bread, (did I mention bread?), prosciutto, mozzarella, parmigian, olive oil, pizza, tiramisu, gelato, and endlessly flowing wine. But it doesn’t just end with the food for the Italians. Preparing a meal is an art form. Dinner time is not just the time to refuel, it is the time for family, friends, community, and country. Every Italian dinner is a reminder of the simple, yet beautiful things in life. Using fresh ingredients for homemade recipes, they embrace their beautiful country and everything it has to offer. And don’t you dare try to get up from the table when you’re done eating, because the night has just begun. Revel in every step of the process. For the dinner at home, it’s the grocery shopping at the market picking the prettiest vegetables and warmest breads, the chopping, mixing and stirring with a glass of Chianti in hand, the smiles on your family members’ faces as you come to the table with the steaming dishes in hand, the stories of the older generations shared for the 50th time, and the clinking of the empty, dirty dishes in the sink to put off washing til later. For the dinner at the local ristorante, it’s the warm greeting from your waiter as you take your seats, the excitement of first reading the menu and meticulously planning out your courses, the clinking of glasses after the pop of the cork as you cheers to love and friendship, the anticipation of watching your food arrive at the table, the reckless ordering of “why not one more bottle of wine for the table” and “of course we’ll order dessert to share,” the bitter taste of espresso signaling the end of the meal, and the luxury of relaxing and chatting at your table until you ask “il conto, per favore,” afterwards walking home to sleep with a full heart and even fuller belly. For the Italians, it’s not simply a love of food, but a love of delicious tastes and fond memories. Taking the time to eat dinner is not an inconvenience but a luxury, and reinforces the values of healthy living and family. I believe everyone should take a page out of the Italian book and learn to slow down and savor every bite.
I’ve been living in Arezzo, Tuscany for the past 3 weeks studying Italian and opera. Here’s just a few of my favorite meals so far! Many delicious foods to come!❤️