Exotic Eats: Italy

Posted by on Sep 25, 2013 in Exotic Eats, Italy | 2 comments

For most of my “Exotic Eats” entries, I have focused my writing on one or two unique and memorable dishes that I encounter in a country or region.  Unfortunately my recent tour through Northern Italy confirmed the rumor that the food in the south is better than the north.  While I did have some delicious meals on our trip, there is not one dish that stands out. So instead, I have decided to compile a short list of things that my recent time in Italy has made me appreciate about Italian cuisine.

1. Food is art and a meal is theater.

Even in the U.S., going out to dinner is one of my favorite activities.  But the Italians take mealtime to a whole new level.  It is to the point that they expect you to order multiple courses and dine for hours while savoring every bite of each course.  They can spot a tourist from a mile away because he or she will only order one pasta dish as a main course.  I love that Italian waiters assumptively close you on a multiple course meal (antipasto, primo, secondo, dulce) and that it inevitably tastes as good as it looks.

2.  Regional diversity of dishes.

I love that no matter where you are in Italy, there is a specialty that you have to try.  It makes me realize just how diverse the cuisine is throughout the “boot”.  During this recent trip to the Italian Riviera, it was a “must” to sample fresh seafood, risotto, and pesto.  

My friend Nicole enjoying seafood risotto in Cinque Terre

My friend Nicole enjoying seafood risotto in Cinque Terre

3. Vino de la casa.

One thing I have always enjoyed about Europe is that great wine is abundant and extremely affordable (often even cheaper than water).  In my opinion, there is zero reason to spend a lot of money on alcohol at an Italian restaurant.  I prefer to request a carafe of the vino de la casa and enjoy whatever they bring me.

4. Focus on ingredients.

While there are many restaurants all over the world that place an emphasis on ingredient sourcing, I personally feel that the Italians are some of the best at this.  Ingredients are locally sourced and always fresh.  Menus change on a seasonal – and often daily – basis according to what is available and what is tasting best at the moment.  

Vino and antipasto in Argegno

Vino and antipasto in Argegno

5. “Simple” pasta and sauce is unbelievable.

I think that a lot of Italian restaurants in America tend to over-complicate recipes.  This often leads to heavy pastas with way too much going on.  Due to the aforementioned amazing local ingredients, Italian pasta dishes are so simple but so delicious.  All I need for an enjoyable food experience is homemade pasta, fresh tomatoes, and local mozzarella.



  1. I want that cheese, bread, sausage (?) platter RIGHT NOW!! Oh, and the wine too!

  2. In the “Vino and antipasto in Argegno” photo, are those potato chips on the left?

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