Let’s be honest – we visit Italy for a myriad of reasons, but the food is definitely near the top of the list. As a low-income student, saving money via cooking is one of the most important parts of my abroad experience, and what better place to eat than in Italy, one of the food capitals of the world? Nothing beats grabbing a €2 panino at the local store near campus, or cheffing up some rigatoni with salsiccia di pollo with your roommate. One of the terms of my contract-to-self was to avoid American food—or at least cuisine that I could easily find in America—as often as possible. Of course, when a bit of homesickness kicks in, a classic American brunch with eggs, turkey bacon and avocado at Le Vespa in Florence is necessary, but you can definitely get used to a cornetto con cioccolata from the local bakery as a viable substitute to the classic American brunch.
For religious reasons, I grew up not eating pork, which poses some obvious challenges in the land of prosciutto, salsiccia, and various other cured pork meats, but it has only made exploring Italian cuisine more of an intriguing challenge. It also encourages me and my roommate, who also does not eat pork for religious reasons, to cook our own dishes as often as possible! The “Carrefour,” one of the Lazio region’s main supermarket chains, can feel daunting to a non-native speaker, but if you’re not afraid to make some mistakes and put yourself out there, entering the Carrefour is an incredible way to gain access to Italian language. Grabbing a baguette, le carne, a bottle of wine and un po’di frutta at the Carrefour is a great way to practice asking questions in Italian, and also a way to get accustomed to Italian culture and how locals eat, shop and cook. I am so happy to declare that food has been such a defining factor of my abroad experience thus far, and I can’t wait to keep cooking, grabbing paninos, and trying new foods and utilizing cuisine as a way to parse through this beautifully complex new language and space.
With that, here are some of my favorite meals I have consumed and/or cooked thus far:
- Rigatoni, al dente, con black pepper, salsiccia di pollo e Hawaiian salts (courtesy of my friend from Hawaii who I met here!)
- Panino con spicy powder, pollo, mozzarella, pomodoro, insalata, and olio.
- Nutella toast on a baguette, of course 🙂
- Nutella gelato…anywhere, anytime. I admittedly haven’t mastered cooking this at home yet…
- Carne di cervo in Todi, Perugia.
- Insalata con pollo et olio from MY BAGS Roma.
Hopefully I can add more dishes to this list soon. As you can probably tell from this post, food is a very important part of my daily stride, so I am positive there’ll be much more cuisine to add to my palette by the end of the semester!