While I was shopping for dinner yesterday I realized the food I chose didn’t feel like “me”. It was too plain or bland or something. I walked myself right on over to the deli area and bought some Italian food. We went from tilapia, salad and peas to a huge platter of anti-pasti with soppressata, capicola, rosemary Parma ham, marinated artichoke hearts, olives, Caprese salad and a few kinds of cheeses. I made some rosemary focaccia bread to serve alongside the big platter. I bought the ocean perch for dinner tonight to have with roasted asparagus. It’s good to eat other flavors once in a while.
All of this made me wonder if the foods I eat make me “more” Italian, if that is even possible. I know it’s built into my DNA to eat, shop and cook in ways similar to my ancestors but what about the tastes of food? I guess it’s possible to have more of a taste for Italian foods since I’m 50% Italian but I don’t crave Polish or Greek foods in the same way.
I can often be found foraging for anything resembling Italian food anytime I am hungry, pasta,olives and cheese being go-to foods. I tease my husband about being “Italian by food” instead of blood because he would eat Italian food all the time. He loves pasta, although not as much as me, breads, cheeses and sauces just like I do. He’s always game for my latest recipe or made up dish.
I also have been discovering there is really no such thing as true Italian food because Italy is a young country which used to be a bunch of small city-states, now called regions, which had their own rulers and government including their own foods. Geography played a part as well. Some climates are more suited for certain produce and livestock to give us wines, cheeses, meats, vegetable dishes and more. We also cannot forget the seaside for Italy is a peninsula after all. The Italians eat so much more fish and seafood than we can begin to realize.
Most of us here in the USA have bought into the Italian-American chain restaurants as being authentic Italian food. But in reality, they are nothing more than great advertising and gimmicks. Many cities have some type of “little Italy” within them and one can certainly find some authentic, or at the very least, regional cooking with flavors and tastes that will never compare with chain restaurants. I mean let’s face it, how can one company really know about Italian food while owning an Australian cuisine restaurant chain as well?
I’m not saying to not visit these places but just know what you are getting when you do. I know that when I eventually get to Italy my eyes will be opened to a whole new view on Italian cuisine including how it travels from farm to table. It’s one of my goals when I go there as I love to research things I don’t know so I can be a better teacher and for the personal enrichment I gain. I really hope I win this trip to Italy which is the prize for the contest I entered.