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La Dolce Vita

Buon Appetito!

ITALY | Wednesday, 20 August 2014 | Views [1104]

I suppose it would be ludicrous to be in Italy and not talk about the food. I know it’s overdone (because, Italy, duh) but seriously, FOOD IS A THING HERE. A very serious thing.

I spent the first part of my day in Florence walking from my hostel (which served the best full breakfast if I ever did see one), to the Piazza del Duomo, to the Uffizi Gallery, to the Ponte Vecchio, and finally, to the Palazzo Pitti. I was voracious by that point, and it had started to rain, so I ducked into a little Trattoria about a quarter mile from Palazza Pitti, called Trattoria la Mangiatoia, for lunch. Before I can say anything, a waitress quickly ushers me upstairs, and I notice I am alone. Fluorescent lighting, classic Italian decorations, and a gelato bar greet me as I take the table nearest to the to the kitchen. The chef is humming along to the Italian music on the radio.

Let me start off by saying that the food in Venice was… not that great. Don’t hate me! Maybe I missed something, but the 3 meals I had while there were just alright. I was disappointed. So I was very hopeful Florence would show me some scrumptious Tuscan cuisine.

The waitress doesn't speak English, but she knows what I mean when I say, “Please bring me whatever you would eat.” I don't bother with the menu as I will eat just about anything. 

First comes the white wine. Fried zucchini blossoms follow, which, luckily, are in season (they are only available for a couple of months in the summer). A zucchini blossom is exactly what it sounds like: the blossom found on a zucchini. These particular ones are served in a brown paper cone to absorb excess oil.

Fried zucchini blossoms 

Bread and olive oil are handed to me as well, which I take graciously, as if I haven't had 100% carbohydrates since being in Italy (I have). The bread is soft on the inside and fire roasted on the outside.

Then comes the pasta course. Yes, pasta is a course in Italy, not the main dish. The waitress brings me pasta with mussels, clams, and a giant shrimp the size of my hand. She takes her fingers and kisses her lips. “Buon Appetito!” It’s exactly what I was hoping for. 

Pasta with seafood - SO good.

She then offers to bring me a meat dish but I have to decline. I am so overly stuffed by this point. Obviously I am not yet trained in the Italian way of eating at least 3 courses for every meal. Meat is typically served as the main course, followed by dessert, and lastly, an espresso. I make a mental note to come prepared next time.

During my long lunch, the restaurant starts to fill up with Italians (always a good sign) and I'm left sipping a sugary espresso (my third of the day, but who is counting?) Waitresses yell orders to the chef and a terrace door is opened as a stormy breeze flows through the muggy restaurant. It starts to rain again. 

I’ve come to realize that meals are essentially the highlight of your day here; everything in between is just filler, time to run errands, see your loved ones, perhaps go to work. Then it’s time to start all over again with the food rituals. My waistband may protest in the coming days, but I think I am starting to understand the way of life here in Italy and I think, no, I am certain, I already love it.

Tags: firenze, florence, italian food, italy

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