Thursday, November 24, 2016

Pasta, Pizza and Pee Pee's......

As our three months in Italy are coming to an end we reflect back on so many things. We have seen  such extraordinary places and sights, met many wonderful people and animals, and ate and lived like Italians. And travel is never complete without learning many new things through our experiences too. For instance, throughout my whole life I stayed away from pasta considering it a worthless food source.  Little did I know that the pasta sold here in Italy is made of the finest ingredients making it much healthier than the American counterparts.  Add to that the fact that I would tend to overcook it since I never understood the need to only cook it till, "al dente," (with tooth) giving it something to bite into.  I have now learned that cooking only till "al dente" has more health benefits and does not raise our glycemic index which increase our sugar levels. Also it makes us feel fuller longer, another benefit.  I will never look at pasta the same again! Here in Italy there are 250 or more shapes of pasta with different names and apparently each and every one is to be prepared a different way with a different sauce.

A few things I learned about eating:

Pasta is NOT the main course but only the first course.  Italians first eat an anti-pasta or salad, then a small serving of pasta, then comes the protein dish.  A serving of pasta is 100 grams (3.5 oz.) more and no less! And it should NEVER be broken to fit into a pot like I always do too. And apparently it is important to retain some of the starchy cooking water to add to the sauce.  It helps to thicken the sauce and make it bind to the pasta. My mother would be horrified as she always told us to rinse the starchy water OFF the pasta before serving.

Italians eat all of the days carbs by lunch time and in the evening only eat protein and a salad.  Then typically they go out and walk as a way to socialize, shop and burn a few calories.

The sauce is never the star of the meal and should be served in small amounts as not to overpower the pasta. And pasta sauce here is always made with carrots, celery, onion and tomatoes unless it's a white sauce of course.

Pizza is never shared and each person at the table is supposed to have their own.  Being that we don't eat that much Clyde and I find one is enough and saves money too. Pizza is served whole, not cut into pieces like it is in the states. And typically pizza in Italy is very thin, cooked in a wood oven and topped with vegetables, rarely meats.  And by the way peperoni's in Italy are NOT meat but are pickled bell peppers. Seriously the pizza here is REALLY good and we surely will never have pizza so good anywhere else in the world! Here it's made fresh, topped with vegetables and other healthy ingredients and served thin and crispy. 

Coffee is only drank with milk in the mornings and typically drank standing up at a counter. Coffee here is espresso unless specified.  Us being tourists disregard that rule and always have a cup of cappuccino in the afternoon.

Italians love pork and most of the meat sold here is ham which goes under the name prosciutto or speck.  Some is sold cooked and other types are raw and eaten that way. Other common sandwich meat is salami and comes in many varieties too.

Besides pork Italians eat horse meat which we hear is high in iron and great for kids, wild boar, veal, lamb, tripe, chicken and beef.

A BAR of CAFE in Italy is NOT what you might think! All of these establishments serve breakfast items like donuts, pastries, croissants and coffee.  Then for lunch time they feature sandwiches, pizza slices, sometimes fruits and salads and cold drinks. And for the evening crowd they serve wine and alcohol which can really be purchased at most any time of the day. There is NO menu in these type of places but what you see if what they have behind the counter. Sandwiches are usually simple with merely a slice of prosciutto and cheese, no condiments or vegetables and served on a crusty baguette.

Bread is commonly served here and always eaten dry. Butter has never been offered to us in a restaurant and rarely even olive oil.  Most of the breads are cooked without salt, fat, sugar or flavor for that matter.  Yet as the weeks went on we found ourselves getting to like the stuff and always seemed to have a loaf of fresh baked bread on our counter.

In Italy as in the rest of Europe there is a service charge added onto to meals at sit down restaurants. Typically here it is 2 euros per person, like it or not.  And unlike the US where drinks are bottomless in Italy and the rest of the world that is NOT the case.  And bread at restaurants here is often not free either. 

Some of the tidbits we learned from people we met along the way:

One of the homeowners we sat for is a teacher so I inquired about the education system here.  Apparently when all children reach the age of 13 they are asked to decide what they want to do when they grow up. They are then put into a vocational type of program along with their regular studies to begin training for a future career. She explained that she once ate a meal where kids were training to work as wait staff.  There is actual training here to become a waitress or waiter which is why the service here is so good.  Instead of having some brainless college kid with an attitude waiting on us like in the states, here they are professionally trained in everything from table settings, how to put the plates down in front of the customer and more. Kids can still continue their education later on and attend college but at least that gives them something to fall back on. School kids here do not wear uniforms and the school year seems to run from September through June, much like schools in the US.

And on a lighter note, doorways tend to be short here to Clyde's dismay.  Clyde is 6 foot 1 and keeps bashing his head into doorways in the houses we have stayed in. He now has several knots on the top of his head and should not be blamed on me the loving wife who would never cause such an injury.  During the first day of one of our sits the homeowner was showing us around the house when Clyde commented on a low doorway.  The homeowner said, "well you know that's because Italians are short." She then added with a serious face, "you do realize that they even had to make special condoms for the men don't you?"  We laughed and I had to ask, "so is your boyfriend Italian?"  She said, with a big grin, "nope, he's British."

The strange little things we've learned while living in Italy among the pasta, pizza and pee-pees.....along the gringo trail.

Terry and Clyde are able to "Travel The World House Sitting"  and so can you!  We have created a website to help people who want to learn about house sitting.    Information for both the prospective house sitter and for someone who needs a house sitter.

the New Website                          -->  CLICK HERE

How to Get Your First House Sit -->  CLICK HERE

How to find a house sitter          ---->  CLICK HERE

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