What Canadians, Americans, and those living in other highly multi-cultural countries need to understand is simple: not every country is as a multi-cultural as we are. WHICH IS OK! That’s the beauty of it. Us as Canadians have adopted every culture’s food, and we have the festivals to prove it. That being said, we can’t expect to visit France and eat sushi while we’re there, just like we can’t expect, and shouldn’t expect, to visit Italy in search of an American Breakfast.
During my travels a few weeks ago to six different cities in Italy, one thing just blew me away: restaurants advertising American breakfast, American coffee, and American food. Cue Phoebe Buffay’s “Stop the madness!“, because this is just offensive to the great nutritional culture Italy has to offer.
Without further ado, here are the things you should expect to drink and eat while vacationing in or visiting Italia!
Ok, ok, I know, that’s an obvious one, but I feel like I have an obligation to explain exactly what to expect with pizza in Italy. First and foremost, the crust is muuuuch thinner, but that leads us to the bonus of being able to down a full pizza alone. That’s right, it’s totally normal to order a pizza that you intend to eat completely on your own. Just remember to use your fork and knife, because nobody’s going to cut it into slices for you, and they sure as hell won’t be impressed if you eat it with your hands.
Repeat after me, “un cafe per favore” – congratulations, you just ordered an espresso! I’m definitely a cappuccino kind of girl (anyone who knows me can attest to this), but whenever I go to Italy, I have to cut it after 12 noon. For our Italian friends, cappuccinos are basically breakfast, so if you order one in the afternoon or later, you’re definitely going to get a funny look and hear “turisto” muttered under the barista’s breath. The quality of the beans in Italy is indescribable, so definitely take the opportunity to sip some java while you’re there.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Words to live by, am I right? Travelling to Italy is obviously a haven for me, because I get to munch on gelato as I take in some of the most beautiful views in the world. Keep in mind that gelato is not nearly as creamy as ice cream, and the fruit flavours have no cream at all. My favourite flavours are fragola (strawberry) and limone (lemon) because they provide a great between-meals refresher.
Just like almost all restaurants in Italy have a whole pizza menu, a lot of them have an extremely extensive pasta menu. Not only is there an unreal variety of pasta types, but the choices of sauces, toppings, and add-ons is just out of this world. From seafood, to just a great pesto sauce, there’s a pasta choice for everyone. Even though I technically shouldn’t eat pork (kosher), I can’t help but order Pasta alla Carbonara at least once while in Italy, because it is just soooo delicious. What’s eaten in Rome, stays in Rome, right?
Happy hour is even happier in Italy, when you can enjoy an Aperol Spritz at any restaurant or bar. I’ve seen some people start as early as 11:00 am, and to be fair, I can’t even blame them. Aperol, an orange-flavoured Italian aperitif, mixed with Prosecco and a splash of soda, creates the infamous Aperol Spritz, that everyone is sipping in Italia. If you’re ever walking past a bar, and see everyone with “those orange drinks”, now you know what it is, and believe me, you should definitely get one. Some of my fondest memories of our trip include sitting at a small local bar, sipping our Spritz, and munching off a charcuterie board.
For anyone who knows me and my boyfriend personally, you know that we are quite picky with our wine. Lucky for us, Italians know what they’re doing when they’re making their own. Our favourite restaurant, Gli Angeletti, has a stellar white house wine that is absolutely irresistible. We ordered the wine five out of the six times we have dined there over two trips. For 9 euros a litre, how could we resist? Most restaurants have house wine down pat, and it’s most likely going to be the cheapest drink on the menu as well – bonus!
If you’re a foodie (and/or a drinkie), Italy should definitely be on your future destinations list. I can’t imagine a better country to visit in order to truly experience a nutritional cultural experience. A few other dishes and drinks worth mentioning are bruschetta and limoncello, and if you’d like that details about them, don’t hesitate to let me know. I warn you – travel to Italy on an empty stomach, and don’t expect to come back weighing any lighter!