What We Can Learn
What Americans Can Learn from Italians
Simple things, made with good ingredients, almost always taste better. Every meal doesn’t have to be a new creation. The tastiest things are often utterly simple: homemade pasta tossed in butter and herbs, spaghetti with fresh tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil, or a thick slice of cold watermelon for dessert.
Coffee doesn’t need anything other than milk and sugar. Salad doesn’t need anything more than olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
Meat doesn’t have to be perfectly tender and medium rare to be good. The marbled, chewy, tougher cuts, cuts that like to be cooked well done, with a nice crust, rendered fat, and crispy, charred pieces of grissle, have much more flavor than filet mignon.
Don’t snack. Sit down and eat meals. Enjoy your food. Eat until you are satisfied, and don’t eat again until the next meal-time. (Afternoon gelato is an exception)
A glass of wine at lunch is almost always a good idea. If you can’t drink 4-6 ounces of wine at lunch and make it through the rest of your day, you should readjust your priorities.
Everyone can eat food that is in season. Everyone can plant some herbs, vegetables, and fruit trees in their yards. Almost everyone out here does, and you don’t have to start a food blog, buy a new pair of Birkenstocks, or refer to Alice Waters as simply “Alice” to do these things.
You don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to dedicate an entire day to eating. Sunday is occasion enough.
Bitter is beautiful: espresso, bitter aperitifs like Campari and Aperol, and the whole host of bitter digestive liquors are nearly lost on Americans and this is a shame. We’re missing out on some of the most refreshing and satisfying beverages that exist.
It’s okay to fully cook vegetables. Zucchini or broccoli, cooked until soft, and seasoned with a touch of salt and olive oil can be a revelation.
Restaurants, in general, should not be trusted.
During summer, simple red wine can be served chilled with chunky slices of peaches.
What Italians Can Learn From Americans
You don’t need a knife to eat a banana.
You don’t know everything about food because your mom is a good cook.
Men should not be served before women at the table. Perhaps this is just a cultural difference, but it seems odd for a man to be gentlemanly in all other aspects of life, and then come home and dig into his plate of pasta before the Nonna has been served and his wife has even sat down at the table.
Sandwiches can be good. Too many sandwiches in Italy are austere, under-filled affairs that Italians only eat if there is no other option. As a result, Italians look down on sandwiches, and think of all sandwiches as a second-class food. Sandwiches can be great if given a little love, and with its wealth of cured meats, interesting cheeses, and preserved vegetables, Italy has no excuse to not be making good sandwiches.
There is no need to peel everything: pears, peaches, apples, potatoes, cucumbers, even kiwis can all be eaten skin-on.
Hoppy beer is delicious.
Cookies are not a breakfast food.
To be great, a meal doesn’t need three courses. Less is more.
A sandwich, loved.