Heart in Italy, Stomach in Eugene

Upon my return from Italy, I found that the three months I spent there taught me more about the world than any term I had at the university. The history I learned in school, the art I saw, the people who I met or observed – all aspects of Italian culture opened my eyes to so much more than I ever knew. But when I look back on my adventure, it was discovering the food and what Italians have to offer that I loved the most of all.

On the Ponte Vecchio overlooking the Arno River in Florence

I did some cooking experiments for myself when I was there – learning how to properly use tomatoes or finding the right wine to go with the pasta and fresh cheese I bought from the friendly owner of our bottega. But much of my experience was gained in the restaurants that I visited.

Most of the restaurants that we ate at were to die for. However, there were a few that we came across that were trying too hard to cater to tourists, specifically Americans. The love of food was lost in their kitchen. The worse places served hamburger patties and French fries, the type that had been pulled out of the freezer twenty minutes before. I couldn’t believe Italians would do such a thing.

Almost all of the restaurants were traditional Italian trattorias. They served us crusty bread, endless Chiantis from one of the hundreds of vineyards around Tuscany. They fed us fresh pasta. My favorite was pici, thick spaghetti-like pasta, with any number of cheese or vegetable sauces. We usually ate several course meals and by the end, I could barely move I was so full from all the delicious plates.

My experience in Italy inspired me to learn about the food that surrounds me. So stay tuned! Here I will document my experiences with food, my stories, my opinions and, of course, some of my favorite recipes.

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