Until we got to the Mediterranean, I was unexcited about the cuisine through middle Europe. I gorged on potato salad for weeks, but otherwise, the meats and such weren’t terribly enticing. Perfectly serviceable food, and filling too – just not the kind that would get me out of bed in a hurry.
For example, bread bowl soup in Prague was cute in a gimmicky way, though overpriced, as was all the other (albeit tasty) street stall food we bought during our brief visit.
Things started to come right in Greece. Succulent lamb. Dolmades. Salad with feta.
But Italy? Italy blew my tastebuds out of the water. Stopping to take photos before devouring food proved too difficult in many cases, but here are a few meals I did capture.
One of our first pizzas (if not the first) in Italy – in Bologna, to be precise
A lunch stop in Orvieto – Umbrian wild boar with pasta!
A simple bolognese in Rome
Tiramisu at an all-you-can-eat Roman lunch buffet
‘Squid ring’ pasta at La Buca di san Fastino, Viterbo
Followed by sausaged stuffed eggplant
My kinda salad…
Splurging on seafood in Amalfi town
And again, in Naples
Naples was a bit of a bust, much as I wanted to love it. Like Bologna, it’s meant to be a city of great food, but I found it somewhat underwhelming. Many places were shut down, being early/mid August when locals go away on holiday (timing couldn’t be helped in this instance) and while we had a LOT of great meals (including countless excellent pizzas) we also had one terribly underwhelming one. Never mind – Pasticceria Mazzaro more than made up for that.
After eating our way through the country, I can only say that it has totally changed my outlook on food. Particularly after our HelpX stint, where we ate veggies and fruit fresh from the garden almost every day, I am committed to shaking up how we eat when we get home. Simple, GREAT ingredients. No more quick and dirty pasta dinners, with a $1 packet of pasta, $3 jar of sauce, maybe some minced meat and a handful of veggies. Nope. Just some top-notch EVOO, tomatoes, cheese, and maybe some courgettes, eggplant, or string beans. For example:
Not only do I want to change my diet, I think I need to change how I eat overall. I’m not going to give up sugar or fried food, but my body definitely knows what it likes. I was almost constantly hungry on the farm in Italy while HelpXing, but hunger aside, I felt great. Even though we rarely had dessert and didn’t snack, I didn’t have any cravings at all. On days that I did ingest meat or sugar, I definitely felt an immediate difference, digestively speaking. It was like a second, more complete detox post-Asia.