Thanks to the Hemborg Wife and Found Love Now What for their Expat to Expat series, here are their questions (from last month) and my answers all about food in my new country (Italy) and my home state/country (New Mexico, USA).
1. What is your favorite food tradition in your new country?
I like Italy’s tradition of a longer meal. In the past year and a half, I can count on less than one hand the number of times I’ve left a meal feeling full or stuffed. Some meals last several hours and include many courses, but the portion sizes are small, the food is fresh (farm to table), and the lag between each dish is plentiful, which gives your body time to digest everything, so you leave feeling satisfied. When you have one of these bigger meals it usually starts with an antipasta (a smattering of melt-in-your-mouth sliced meats and cheese), a primi (pasta and sauce; not usually with meat unless it’s a ragu or a seafood sauce), a secondi (the protein), and then the contorini (side dish). These meals also typically come with wine and after-dinner coffee included in the price! It’s pretty awesome.
Another tradition I love love is that it’s the norm to eat an entire pizza on your own, and again, you just feel satisfied after eating it. I’m sort of afraid of eating American pizza again.
2. Where have you traveled to that you thought had the best food to offer?
3. What is the typical breakfast where you currently live and would you eat it back home?
Ah, speaking of breakfast! Italians aren’t really on board with eggs* or cereal for the first meal of the day, which makes me sad. Actually, add pancakes, waffles, and bacon to that list, too. They are, however, down with croissants (yum!), coffee (thank God), and meats (prosciutto, salamino, etc.) and cheese. I looooove this when we’re traveling and will miss it so much when we leave. *some b&bs will have hard-boiled eggs, which makes my tummy happy.
4. What type of restaurant, either style or type of food, do you think is lacking in your new home?
Fast food, specifically, drive-thrus (and even more specifically: Sonic, since they serve breakfast all day and drinks with the awesome ice). It’s one of the things I love and hate about Italy. I love that I haven’t had fast food (with the exception of when I’m on base some days or when we randomly stop at an Italian McDonald’s) since we’ve been out here. On the other hand, there have been countless number of days when I’ve been famished and longed for a quick fix from a fast food restaurant, especially since places out here (except for pizzerias) don’t open for dinner until at least 7 pm. I’ve learned to pack my car with snacks for moments that I need an emergency snack.
5. Do you think your home state/city/province has a food everyone should try?
New Mexican food is my all-time favorite type of food in the entire world. I’ve learned to make a fair amount of my favorite meals, so I’ve never (thankfully) felt deprived of not having it out here.
6. What is your favorite dish to prepare that you would never have made back home?
Oh gosh, this is a tough question! I’ve made frutti di mare a few times out here and I don’t think I would’ve made that back in America. I wasn’t really into seafood before we came out here, but now I love it.
7. What is the oddest food in your new country?
I haven’t seen or eaten anything “odd,” really. The strangest thing, culturally, is probably cavallo, which in English translates to horse. I know, I know. I haven’t personally eaten cavallo yet (that I’m aware of), but I know several people who say it’s pretty good. Lamb, duck, deer and wild boar are also pretty standard on any menu. The toppings on pizzas here are a little surprising. Egg, corn, beans, tuna, French fries, and a variety of other odd foods frequently appear on menus. (Don’t knock it ’till you’ve tried it!)
8. If you could have a crate of one type of food sent to you from your home country, what would it be?
Freshly roasted Hatch green chile. Oh, how I miss that.
9. What three foods remind you of summer?
Berries, (non-sweet) iced tea with ice (!), and corn on the cob. YUM! I can’t wait to enjoy all of those when we’re back in America. Fun fact: corn is grown alllllllll over the place here for grain, but not for food. Oh, and I want to add green asparagus to the list. Basically, grilled food and pie reminds of summer!
10. What food from your new country are you surprised to enjoy?
All of the meats! I didn’t think I’d like the idea of eating raw (cured) meat, but goodness gracious, it’s delicious! Cinghiale (wild boar) is also really good.
Bonus: Where was your favorite place you ever took a summer vacation to?