I can remember when I was little and my mother warning me that if I ate too much of one thing, then I would turn into that food item. Oftentimes the warning followed when I gobbled down too many chicken nuggets or too many Oreos. Upon hearing this idea, I would imagine myself morphing into a strange mass of breaded chicken or stumbling up the stairs as a giant chocolate cookie.
If this really were the case, it is likely that after more than three months living abroad today I would resemble either spaghetti, penne, farfalle, or maybe even orecchiette. In light of my newfound beverage of choice, I might imagine that instead of blood, my veins would also be readily pumping wine.
Since coming to Italy, my diet has rapidly changed. At home and at school, my daily food diary would typically begin with coffee alongside cereal or a granola bar. Lunch would be something quick, such as a bagel and a piece of fruit, or perhaps even just a loaded bag of Mini Wheats cereal. Dinner would depend on my location; at home, multiple bowls of pasta always help cure the hunger cravings that often emerge after lunch. An evening meal at the Georgetown cafeteria is unpredictable; sometimes I get creative and make a stir fry with proteins and vegetables, while other times all I crave is a sandwich with lots of pickles and a cone of fro-yo. In America, oftentimes I either feel starved between meals or guilty for having consumed too much food at once.
In Italy, however, I never have to worry about going hungry. Breakfast here is simply a shot of espresso or a frothy cappuccino accompanied by a brioche. Though it might not seem like enough, the light beginning is all one needs to keep content until the bountifulness of lunch and dinner. The later two meals of the day are always multi-course affairs. The meal begins with il primo piatto, first course, typically a soup or some type of starch, such as pasta, risotto, or polenta. Il secondo piatto, the second course, includes a meat dish accompanied by various contorni, usually an assortment of vegetables. So long as one has left enough room, il dolce finishes the meal. Dessert can be as simple as le fragole con panna, strawberries with cream, or as decadent as tiramisù. No meal would be complete without a glass of wine (or two) to wash it all down.
To help readers understand what gastronomic heaven I will sadly have to leave in a week, enjoy my photographic food diary of one’s day lunch at Villa Le Balze.
Primo Piatto: Pasta alla Norma
A traditional pasta dish from Catania, Sicily made with fried eggplant, tomatoes, Ricotta Salata, and basil
Secondo Piatto: Pollo con Olive e Cipolle
Chicken with Olives and Caramelized Pearl Onions
Dolci: Tre Sorprese
Three surprises: a Nutella tart, a jam tart, and an Italian twist on carrot cake
Considering that this wide assortment of food is available to me every week day for lunch at the Villa, it is amazing that my pants’ buttons have yet to pop nor have I started bleeding wine and Nutella. In the next day or two, expect another photographic food diary about what it means to eat dinner at Flavia’s.
With less than a week left in Italy, I am determined to leave no crumb untouched as I eat my way through the remaining items on my food bucket list. I can only hope that during this last week in Italy my childhood nightmares of morphing into spaghetti do not suddenly manifest into reality.