If you are a self-proclaimed foodie and travelling in the near future, I definitely recommend that you put Italy on the top of your travel itinerary. Known for its rich history, culture, and famous landmarks, Italy is also known globally for its cuisine, which ranges from pastas, to pizzas, to gelatos.
I had the opportunity to travel to Italy this summer with my family, and all I can say is that the extra pounds were so worth it! Stops in Venice, Naples, Rome, Florence and Milan, are definitely must-dos for anyone into gastronomy!
We woke up early every day on a mission to experience as much as we could of what the city had to offer. However, when it came to food, we relied on local recommendations and, through trial and success, found our culinary destinations, embracing each new restaurant with curious anticipation and excitement.
Here are some things I recommend when in EAT-aly!
1. Enjoy an authentic Italian pizza
• Pizza is hands down one of my favourite meals, so I took advantage of eating authentic Italian pizza at every opportunity. Margherita Pizza, which is simply tomato, mozzarella cheese and basil, has and will always be at the top of my list, because Italians focus more on the quality of ingredients rather than the quantity.
I remember ordering my first pizza there and wondering why it didn't come sliced. But then my stepmother (who is an avid traveller) explained that, in Italy, they use knives and forks to eat rather than their hands - sounds about right considering that their culture is so classy!
• TIP: NEVER (and we were warned by an Italian restaurateur himself) ask for a Hawaiian pizza - the thought of fruit on a pizza is still not one that they are accustomed to.
2. Pasta, pasta, pasta! Nothing
says Italian like pasta
• Truthfully, I have never met a pasta dish I didn't enjoy (knock on wood). And when I found out I would be travelling to Italy, I was excited to eat traditional Italian pasta dishes in their birthplace. It's great when you travel with your family, because each person can order a different dish and everyone can dig in. My favourite pasta dishes were spaghetti Bolognese and spaghetti carbonara.
• TIP: Many Italians don't recommend that you order lasagna from a restaurant, because they make it in large batches, freeze, then serve it.
3. Oil is your friend.
Well, olive oil is!
You would think that I was running a marathon the way I was loading up on carbs. Bread, bread, bread - when the bread finished, my only question was, can I have more bread? Most restaurants in Italy serve you bread or bread sticks as soon as you are seated. However, don't think to ask for butter because, in Italy, they are very proud of the olive oil they produce.
The olive oil is to be swirled in a plate with balsamic vinegar. The bread is to be dipped in this for flavour. But though you may be tempted, do not fill up on bread, because there are so many delicious things to eat. You'll want to save some room to indulge!
4. Indulge in Limencello after your meal.
OK, maybe the word indulge is a stretch, but definitely have a sip of Limencello after your meal, because the Italians claim that it will help with your digestion, and we all know, if you digest your dinner properly, then you will have more room for gelato.
• TIP : Limoncello is sold all over Italy. Buy a bottle and carry home to enjoy!
5. Go ahead and order yourself a glass of vino!
I admit it, I love wine. And though I wasn't able to fit in a trip to a vineyard, I definitely took advantage of the wide variety of wines available there. My father also enjoys a good glass of wine and, though he wouldn't be considered a connoisseur, he always scans the wine list until he finds what he thinks is the perfect wine for the occasion. So I was able to try many glasses of prosecco, red wines and, of course, whites.
• TIP: Don't be afraid to order the house wine, and don't cringe with what I'm about to say, but we tasted wine from the box one night and we were pleasantly surprised by the taste. Wine is subject to the palate, so try them all!
I have a weakness for sweetness! Everywhere I turned in Italy, I saw gelato. Even when I thought I avoided all the gelato stops, there was one waiting on me, and so it would be an injustice if I didn't just dig in. Think of a flavour and it was there. However, I am a sucker for chocolate and so I always had it. I must say that, while I was in Milan, I went to Cioccolat Italiono and there had what was hands down THE best gelato I've ever tasted. First, you pick your cone, and then they pour chocolate fudge into the cone then put the gelato on top - orgasmic!
• Tip: Just eat the gelato!
So now that the trip is over and I am back in Jamaica, I can safely look back and say those few extra pounds were so worth it. Now, back to marathon training with my We Got The Runs family.