After my school bus would drop me off in front of my high school, I would unwrap the peanut butter toast I had made earlier that morning. While walking– and sometimes running– I would quickly take bites of my breakfast in the hope that I would finish it in time before class.
Similar to how I ate my breakfast growing up in Massachusetts, I didn’t have time for a sit down breakfast before my first summer class here in Florence. My flatmates and I were walking to our very first class – “History and Culture of Food in Italy”. We briskly walked down the cobblestone streets, past the Duomo, and into our school building. While we walked, I rushed to finish the breakfast I had made that morning -- peanut butter toast. I felt a few eyes on me as I munched on my breakfast but did not think much of it.
During my class, I learned that eating my toast while walking that morning was the equivalent of holding a sign that read “Hi everyone, I’m an American!" I learned how Italians take their time while eating. How food is synonymous with pleasure and the consumption of food is treated as such. Italians usually do not take food “to go” (typically not even coffee cups), do not order “takeout”, do not leave immediately after finishing their meal, and definitely do not eat while walking.
I pondered all of this while I ate lunch at a cafe the next day. I sipped my delicious cappuccino, slowly. I took small bites of my pasta and enjoyed the symphony of flavors. I appreciated the soft, rich cheese in the center of the pasta, the creamy tomato sauce, and the fresh, piercing taste of the basil. I noticed how much more satisfied I felt after taking my time to finish my meal. I had always known it was better to take your time while eating, but actually completing the act was more rewarding than I anticipated. I made a mental note to try and eat my future breakfasts in the same way -- and to ditch my tired, old peanut butter toast for a hot, homemade croissant.