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Wandering and Writing

My Travel Writing Scholarship 2011 entry - Journey in an Unknown Culture

WORLDWIDE | Monday, 28 March 2011 | Views [494] | Comments [1] | Scholarship Entry

"The Journey of Taste while Living Abroad on the Euro"

The best thing about living in Italy was taking the four months to indulge in pasta and gelato and not regretting a single bite. Bolognese, arrabiata, and pomodoro— all these Italian words thrown over different types of pasta such as penne, tagliolini, and pappardelle.

Before and after each meal, I found myself in a gelato shop. I made my goal for the entire spring to find as much canella (Italian for cinnamon) gelato as possible. Being in Italy meant paying around €17, or $23 USD, for what is equivalent in size to a bowl of “fettucine alfredo” at the Olive Garden. Of course the tastes are remarkably different.

The journey of your eating habits is incredible when you live abroad. Goodbye to eating fast food cheeseburgers… actually goodbye to eating meat on a regular basis. You realize you cannot afford to eat it. Once you leave Italy to travel, you experience a whole new culture of eating.

One that lacks carbs.

I found myself in Prague for a weekend to visit a friend. I was immediately confused when I dished out 40 CZK to take a bus from the airport to the city center. When I was let in on the secret, I realized everything was cheaper. They were right, beer was less than soda and bottled water— and it cost about $1 USD. Beer wasn’t my primary concern though. My friend brought us to her favorite local restaurant, Restaurace U Knihovny. My meal consisted of a pork-tenderloin stuffed with ham and cheese, potato croquettes, and honey cake for dessert. The meal was less than $8 USD, which was the cheapest meal and the most filling of my entire European excursion.

While prosciutto in Tuscany is fabulous— nothing beats lamb in Athens or wiener schnitzel in Vienna. It all depends on your location. You go to America if you want a hamburger. But in Italy, the Euros roll away every time you order bistecca fiorentina at La Giostra or cinghiale (wild boar) at Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco in Florence. Both of these local favorites are recommended, just pricer than lamb souvlaki in Greece. If you’re traveling around Europe, remember places like Czech Republic, which isn’t on the Euro, so you’re more likely to get the most meat for your money.

Try cooking. Local grocery stores in Italy are worth roaming around. From fresh bread to pasta, an entire trip to the market costs less than dinner out. If the preparation seems like too much work, try the cheaper, local favorites (such as lamb souvlaki or pizza). Taste food you have never had too.

The ironic twist? After searching Europe up and down for something as filling as a cheeseburger, I turned vegetarian since my return to New York. So begins the journey of eating vegetables.

Tags: #2011Writing, Travel Writing Scholarship 2011

Comments

1

Canella gelato is one of the reasons mankind was given tastebuds! I liked your piece. When I was in Italy a few years ago I was a very poor student and found that the Italian cuisine available on a budget was generally unappealing. I would love to go back and be able to appreciate it properly as you've described here!
P.S. check out my journal for another take on wild boar... I had no idea they eat it in Italy as well!

  aro-tron Mar 28, 2011 8:54 PM

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