As I share about my trip with all of my friends back in Boston, I keep hearing the same question: “How was the food in Italy?” Obvious answer, here! Amazing! Everything I ate was incredible, and so 90% of the time I forgot to take a picture. I am sorry, but I was too immersed in the moment. The overarching theme of every meal, however, was the quality of the ingredients. We were lucky enough to be staying in the countryside that surrounds Bologna, the food capital of
Italy the world. Not only are they known for their excellent Bolognese sauce, rich lasagna, and amazing wine and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, but they also have so many great local fruits and veggies! Every field is planted with a different crop: soy beans, corn, sugar beets, wheat, plums, pears, apples, apricots… so many different kinds of cool produce. My favorite were the fields of sunflowers, grown as crop for seed to make oil. We hit at the perfect time to see them in full glory! In just one day, they had begun to wilt and dry up, on their way to a seed crop’s dry fate.
The small-scale production and freshness really made a difference. We snacked on plain tomatoes, enjoyed fresh salads and green beans with dinner, were satisfied by sweet fruit for breakfast and dessert. I fell in love with tiny apricots and amazing figs, and have never enjoyed tomatoes more.
Although we got to see beautiful churches, fancy monuments, and tons of cool historical sites, it is possible that my favorite place in Bologna was the market that Miriam took us to. It is only open in the mornings, so we braved the morning heat to see what they had to offer.
We paused at the fish market outside to look at all of the cool (and, to me, exotic) seafood you could find for reasonable prices! We window shopped for a bit, and then Miriam took us to her favorite market. This wasn’t any old salumeria, even though legs of cured prosciutto hung from every rafter. Every shelf and corner was piled high with gigantic wheels of gourmet cheese, fresh and dried pastas, unique jellies, specialty oils and vinegars, and amazing Italian wines. I was in food gawking heaven. I literally circled the shop twice trying to take it all in. We sampled a few cheeses and brought a few more home, pulling ourselves away before compulsively buying everything that caught our eye.
Too bad I have an exam coming up on Friday or I would hop on my bike now to get to the North End, the Italian section of Boston with great specialty grocers. Too bad the prices are so high there because of the import tariffs and I probably couldn’t afford much anyway! Oh to dream of times past and times to come.
Question: What is your favorite food item to splurge on?