It is my dream to travel solely to dine. I am a major foodie, full of pretention towards the finer, richer foods, and always open to trying new exotic dishes. Italy has been a pleasure to dine through. My first meal here was a three course dinner: pasta, meat, dessert. This format is typical to the Italian diet. I have eaten sandwiches on the streets, pizzas larger than my face but all for myself, and pounds of pasta that has tided me over when my cash was low.
Early in my time here I discovered the farmers market every Wednesday, where I could buy truffle sauce, wine, produce, and cheese. And every day there is a covered market where I have visited the butcher and the fruit and vegetable vendors a few times a week for my food fix. I have tried to buy local and to buy seasonal fruits and vegetables. I have tried different Italian ways of eating and pairing foods. I have tasted many cheeses, and the breads of the region. I have tried my region’s cured meats, which are so lovely and delicious. Eating is such a sensual experience, and Italy’s fresh, artisanal food has never disappointed me.
Every day, I have eaten gelato. When the vendors try to speak to me in English and call it ice cream, I cringe. Gelato is way better than our American ice cream. It is thicker, smoother, and richer. I have tried almost every gelato place in town (unless I heard they were not so good from the locals). I have formed friendships with the shop owners, who know exactly what kind I will be picking out… Bacio and dark chocolate being among my top two.
I have had the opportunity to tour the largest chocolate factory in Europe, Perugina. I received so many free samples, and bought so much chocolate for my family to try at home. I have been to every chocolate shop in town and tried at least one of their hand made candies to satisfy my sweet tooth. A few days a week I will grab a pastry in the morning: a cornetto stuffed with Nutella, or a chocolate cannoli, or a traditional Sicilian fried cannoli. And sometimes I will go to the local bakery and treat myself to various breads of the region, just to taste them.
When I was in Sorrento, I tried fresh limoncello at a lemon grove, as well as a fresh lemon. It was so cool and refreshing and unlike anything I have ever tasted. Then I ate limoncello gelato from their gelateria. In that same weekend, I tasted a baba- a traditional pound cake pastry soaked in rum, as well as a clamshell pastry native to Naples. I even ate pizza in Naples, where pizza originated. In Tuscany, I tasted immature cherries from wild growing trees, I ate at a world famous butcher’s restaurant, and tried whipped lard (which was delicious). Just today I was handed fresh cherries at the covered market just to taste. The food opportunities of Italy are vast and nondiscriminatory. Every location has its own perks and own mysteries to uncover.
I have tasted my part of Italy- from the Almafi coast to Tuscany to Umbria. I yearn to taste Sicily, and Bologna, and Parma, and all of Northern Italy. But for now I am satisfied, for I have tried my best to taste everything that has crossed my path. Food is life, and life is good.
Amanda Campbell is a student at Arcadia University and is blogging from her summer abroad at the Umbra Institute in Perugia, Italy.