Italy A Foodie’s Paradise, Surely Not?

Posted on February 24, 2013

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Lots of fruit and veg' is available at Florence's outdoor food market

Lots of fruit and veg’ is available at Rome’s popular outdoor food market at Campo de’ Fiori

Do we really associate Italy with food? Well, yes we do. Going back generations Italy has always been associated with home cooked food, served just like mama made it. And when I mention to family and friends about my trip to Italy, the question “what was the food like?” comes up every time. The fact that I went away with a professional chef eager to taste the flavours of Italy meant only one thing: lots and lots of food was consumed.

Florence

I found the City of Florence was exactly as the guidebook’s describe it to be – a foodie’s paradise. And for me this notion is summed up at the Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio, Florence’s indoor food market.

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I tucked into my panino con bollito immediately!

Inside the market lay row upon row of food stalls (as you might expect from a food market). And if you walk among the stalls with hanging cheeses, hams and fresh pasta, and pass-by the rows of olive oils, spices and freshly baked bread you will find Nerbone. Nerbone was packed out every time I passed; and once I got my hands on a Nerbone product I could see why. The most popular and generally recommended dish from here is boiled beef-bun dunked in the meat’s juices before serving. However, I saw many a tasty variation on this, ranging from pasta to plain and simple meat on a plate. Fight for a seat or eat standing – It really doesn’t matter in a place this good.

Another food product that is abundant in Florence is truffles. I got a great deal for some summer black truffles in a lovely food shop that was sadly closing down. However, this meant I got them for a bargain price! I realised this when I got to Rome and found them priced at treble the amount in Florence. Black diamond truffles are the most rare and therefore expensive, followed by the white and summer black truffles.

Rome

My favourite food discovery during my time in Italy was arancini. These delicious deep-fried fried rice balls originally from Sicily made the best food, comfort or otherwise. Typically stuffed with ragu and peas, arancino can be found served alongside slices of pizza and other hot snacks in takeaway-style restaurants.

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Cheese and meats hang inside Florence’s indoor food market

We all know that pizza is typically associated with Italy, and the large amount of choice meant I had lots to sample. I found the best pizzas were by the slice from takeaway-style places. The types of pizza range from thin crust to fresh topping served on ciabatta bread – don’t even get me started on the toppings *drools*. After consuming a lot of pizza, I realised there were so many different types it was hard to choose a favourite. I conclude that good pizza is abundant in Italy, so if you do get served with bad pizza something is terribly wrong.

The only way to drink coffee after midday in Italy is in the form of an espresso. Typically espressos are drank in Italy standing up  leant against a bar. For people who aren’t fond of the strong taste of espresso, macchiatos are served with a little milk to take the edge off. While I was away I grew to love this way of drinking coffee, so much so I have ordered my very own espresso machine.

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Posted in: Art and Culture