An Open Cookbook

An Open Cookbook


Eating through Italy

I have been eating so many Thanksgiving leftovers this past week, that I thought I'd take a little trip down memory lane and pull out some pictures from a European trip of a few years ago.  While on this trip, I decided early on that I would document each day by what food I ate and would connect that to the day's stories.  This was the beginning of my journey of writing about food.  During my trip, I sent out weekly emails to my family and friends, highlighting my menu selections.  Below is a little window into my journey...Buon Appetito!

Two years ago, I took a solo trip to Europe for five weeks.  I had always wanted to do the backpack around Europe via train and hostel trip that a lot of people did after college.  It was quite a culinary adventure.  I ate my way through Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Italy and Switzerland.  But what I am about to highlight, only encompasses Italy.  I spent two and half of my five weeks trekking through Italy, which was by far my favorite of all the countries.

My Eurail map
Venice was my first stop, and it was as though the air became sweeter and warmer the second the train pulled into the station.  I felt a sense of calm as I took a huge exhale.  It was then that I realized I had been waiting my whole trip to get to Italy. 

After having spent two and half weeks hopping around four other countries, I had gotten quite good at navigating a new city.  But Venice was a whole new arena.  After settling into my bed and breakfast, I hit the cobbled pavement.  And within an hour, I tucked my map into my purse, never to be used again.  Within two turns, and up and down a few bridges, you can be immediately lost.  But then you make another turn, and see a sign for the main drag or St. Mark's square, and somehow you know where you are again.    The picture above was a respite from being lost for the first time...a piece of my first Italian pizza...thinly sliced eggplant and red and yellow peppers. 

This panini was the last vittle of food I got before leaving Venice to go to Florence.  It consisted of roasted eggplant, zucchini and peppers with a healthy amount of fresh mozzarella, polished off with a nice glass of red wine.

The pizza below was my lunch looking out the window of Rome.  I had never had shredded zucchini on pizza before this trip.  What a brilliant idea!  I saw it upon arriving in Rome, and couldn't get the olive oiled shreds of zucchini out of my head.  And I loved the way they sell the slices of pizza there.  It was all by weight.  I had no idea how much to order the first time, so I just made a shape with my hands to indicate the size, and didn't mind when he cut a piece one and a half times that.

Rome was also one of my fondest memories of the trip.  I stayed in a cute little apartment overlooking a small neighborhood right down the street from the Vatican.  I would get a voucher every morning for a pastry and a coffee in the shop below my apartment.  The following is what I got four days in a row:

And I was so lucky to be right across the street from a busy restaurant crammed with people all hours of the night.  My usual routine was to go walking and sightseeing  all day (after having 'said' breakfast), and then I would come home and relax before dinner.  The first day I was so excited to try out the little restaurant after a long day of walking at least ten miles.  It was only about 6:30 and was beside myself, when I learned I had to wait until 7:30, to try the purple cabbage and blue cheese pizza!  Ah!  So I went back up to my room and ate a free cookie I had gotten on the airplane to tide me over.  But it was well worth the wait.

Before Milan, which was my last Italian stop, I popped into Cinque Terre.  I had been hearing so many mythical stories of this place, which literally means 'five lands' in Italian.  The most interesting aspect of it is that you can hike from town to town, stopping in each one for shopping, food or wine...or you can just keep going.  I stayed in the first town, Riomaggiore and hiked all the way to the end.  And the best part is that you can take the train back!  I enjoyed this so much, that the next day I did it again.  The reward was that at the end, you can get a glass of wine and a little cup of olives and sit on the beach, soaking in the Mediterranean breeze. 

I stayed above the most amazing deli that had fresh pesto, marinated artichoke hearts, figs, fresh mozzarella, foccacia and salami.  This is what I had each night I was there:

I actually had reservations to go to Milan one night, but decided I just couldn't leave quite yet.  So I double booked myself for a room in Cinque Terre and Milan...which was well worth the money.  How could I leave a place with food like this and a view like this??

I will close this chapter with warm thoughts of the Mediterranean breeze and fresh pesto and olives.  Next time I have a lot of leftovers, I will open another chapter.

1 comment:

Haley said...

Oh my goodness that panini looks incredible! I love the idea of a solo backpacking trip... how beautiful :)