I´m afraid this post is not what you´d expect. Before I start I have to put a little disclaimer upfront. I´m an extremely picky eater, I´m almost vegetarian (I only eat chicken breast once a week) and basicly dislike all the fancy food, seafood and other delicacies that other people adore. I´m not a foodie and this is simply my personal opinion on the traditional Italian foods and restaurants, an opinion which I know most of you will not share.
Italian food is probably the most popular and beloved cuisines in the world. In the last few years I´ve made several trips to Italy (boyfriend is Italian ;) and like probably most of you would, I was always looking forward to the amazing dishes I would eat. I´ve been to Italy probably about 10 times and my disappointment has just grown bigger and bigger each time I´ve visited. Italian food to me is amazing cold tomato soup with parmesan sprinkles, countless startes I can hardly choose from, rich gnocchi quattro formaggi, lush salads and amazing deserts and gelatos. The truth is, if you are not eating meat or fish your choices are VERY limited when you go out to a real Italian trattoria.... (and don´t even get me started on the looks I get when I tell someone I´m vegetarian... most of the times they look at me like I´m a weird UFO)
My biggest disappointment is probably on the antipasti arena. Tomato soup doesn´t exist, some starters I do like are some of the cheeses they usually serve, but after some tales of some worms in some of these cheeses which is supposingly gives them their good taste... I`ve decided NO THANKS! I usually resert to some grilled vegetables which is just that... vegetables soaked in olive oil and grilled without usually any additional spices.... meeehhhh
Pastas.... I´m probably very unlucky. It has to be it, but although I normally eat pastas when we eat out, I´ve yet to find an amazing pasta I can tell tales about. I had a short love affair with a truffle filled ravioli served in a nut sauce but shortly after I´ve discovered it, they took it off the menu... this clearly describes how my and Italians taste do not match when it comes to food.
Chicken... I´ve yet to find an Italian restaurant which serves any kind of chicken! NO KIDDING!
Pizza... I´ve had some good pizzas I´m not gonna deny it, but nothing outstanding that I couldn´t find outside of Italy.
Salads... sure you can order a mixed salad but there is certainly no variety.... rocket salad, tomatoes and a little mozarella served with oil and balsamico. (no other choice of dressings)
Desserts... OK me and Italian desserts are still friends, but then again I´m an ice cream addict so I could live on gelato alone and I have to give it to them... they know how to do their craft!
My biggest down in the appreciation of the Italian kitchen came a few days ago.... we were looking to have breakfast at a little buffet where it turned out that the most popular sandwich which most of the people in the queue ordered (and there was a queue for it!) was filled with horse meat. I´m choking just writing this down. While I was watching my friends enjoying their horse meat sandwich I started to cry. I´m not into riding, I´ve never been emotionally attached to a horse, but this sent shivers through my spine. To me eating a horse is like eating a dog. I´m not trying to judge anyone, it´s certainly a cultural thing and a dish that many many Italians and foreigners enjoy but I just couldn´t stop crying. I know I know it´s silly!
Overall even my picky Italian boyfriend agrees that Italian food is better outside of Italy! It must be the fusion of the kitchens or the fact that traditional Italian restaurants are.... well... traditional, while it´s foreign countreparts put a modern spin on things and develop more innovative and healthy menus.
I love Italian food and it will always be one of my favorite kitchens... just maybe outside of Italy. I wish I´d like seafood or could appreciate some of the supposingly amazing meats but that´s just not me.
Any comments? (be nice! ;)