Monday, May 17, 2010

Food in Italy

Can you believe I asked Jon to take this picture but didn't go inside? "No, no", I said, "I just like to look." It's true: I love to look at nicely displayed bakeries and candy stores, especially when they use shiny printed tin or cellophane. Some of the tarts in this display have wild strawberries on them! Paradiso!

But what was I thinking "just looking"? Everyone talks about Italian food so what I say won't matter. I could never get past course two so never had any desserts. Heartbreak.

The last night in Florence I went into a really pricey chocolate store and ordered a very small custom box of filled chocolates, two of each, thinking if I liked the taste I'd share it with Jon. NO SHARE! I didn't eat them till I got home and they were exquisite. One had champagne inside that dribbled right down my chin. Another had an apricot inside with the pit still inside the apricot. I wish I could go back and buy one of everything in the store just for me.

These were ravioli. They made me feel like I was really small because they were such giant tubes, in a walled Medieval city. They were really good, just fennel and leek but they probably snuck some animal thing in there because they even serve salami at breakfast in the hotels we stayed in.

Such pretty lettuce. We went to a great farmer's market in Genoa for more "just looking." Genoa is a nifty place to visit.

Our last night in Rome we were sent to a restaurant by the hotel, (and that's not a good idea. There's some kind of kick back going on.) We were served this artistic starter, which was filled with a wonderful artichoke mousse, but then my main course, sea bass first shown to me on a big platter before anything had been done to it, (John the B?) was sea bass with cheese sauce which didn't seem very Italian and was a bit creepy.

Blogger seems to have a limit on pictures to post. I was an experimental eater in Italy: whatever sounded weird but within my range I'd order. Why not? After a very weird sea food pasta Jon stuck to tomato sauce. I think the dishes he ordered were probably tastier, but now I know what not to order!

The regional thing is sometimes claustrophobic but sometimes terrific. Anywhere in Lucca where you ordered bruschetta it came with gloppy chicken liver topping. EUW! In Genoa a wonderful artichoke quiche like thing was on all menus. (no spiky chokes.)

Loved that all our hotels served blood orange juice for breakfast, even if sometimes it seemed to be cut with Kool-Aid. Campari Orange is a wondrous drink in Rome and comes with a grilled cheese sandwich whether you want one or not.

Truly disgusting that horse is on the menu but they don't provide translation. Figured it out too late or would have definitely boycotted a restaurant in Rome where we had lunch twice.

So how's that for the uninformed traveler passing through one of the most elegant gastronomic areas in the whole entire world?

Worst meal? Pizza! Right outside the Vatican!


booda baby said...

That was truly fun and funny and although, in retrospect, it might be hard to believe, when you're not crazy ravenous for it, what are you going to do? Although, NEXT time you go, we should - at the VERY least - have gelato eating practice. :)

Sea bass with cheese sauce? How very strange. I get a little skeered of what they do to marine dishes there.

Ooooh, I'm all mouth watery, reading about your chocolate delicacies.

Did you give going into a grocery store a shot? That's my favorite thing to do, wherever I go and Italy's markets always come with deli counters where you can pick up the freshest and bestest ... what's that stuff - ah! (Yay for amp clients strolling through. They always know good stuff) - PESTO. That's it! I'd love to know if you poked your head and mouth in ...

Namowal said...

Booda baby is on to something about the local markets- when I went to Europe with my folks (long ago), we got most of our food from local shops (produce mart, bakery, cheese shop etc..) and enjoyed it in the parks. Great stuff!
I'm not sure how you were able to photograph those bakery goodies without sneaking in the shop. They look tasty!
The idea of eating horse creeps me out too. I wouldn't even want to taste it.

Pile Girl said...

It's great to hear all about your adventures. I am personally so weird about food. I have a hard time making myself try something unfamiliar. Especially when it might be Mr. Ed.
I especially love your photo of the desserts.

Linda said...

Well, this is the post I've been waiting for. And this sentence jumped right off the screen:

"Campari Orange is a wondrous drink in Rome and comes with a grilled cheese sandwich whether you want one or not."

...and the chocolate that squirted Champagne.

Sally said...

We did share a gelato twice, in Rome, where at a certain time of day there are even more people eating gelati than smoking cigarettes.

We saw some exquisite take out shops, and Jon sampled quite a few pesto dishes too. I was trying out truffles, ordered lots of porcini mushroom dishes.

I didn't eat horse! I didn't order the raw shrimp I saw on a menu either. But I did order aged sliced lard as a starter and it was sort of tasty but definitely weird.

Linda, the Campari Orange is made with fresh orange, blood orange.

stray said...

What fun! I gained weight in Italy years ago. Was the gelato by the Trevi Fountain? (An art history teacher spoke of it.) I recall very thin, crispy pizza somewhere. Cheese sauce on seafood would make me queasy. It is delightful that each area has its own specialty and that they take such pride in it. Was the walled city Siena?

Mean Jean said...

Lucky YOU!! Our Dallas kids just spent 6 days in Florence and 2 in Rome. They were delayed coming home due to the ash fallout. We kid-sat.

My turn is coming...I hope.

Sally said...

I think the town was Montereggio. Now we're going to see Dinah on Saturday and then it's mountain time. Might not blog for a while.

Linda said...

No! Don't go!