If there is one thing I have learned about during my time in Italy (besides of course all of my new music and academic knowledge), it is FOOD. Yes, this sounds like such a stereotype when we’re talking about Italy. Everyone knows this is the land of pizza, pasta, and gelato. And I must admit, this stereotype is not completely unfounded. There is quite a lot of pizza, pasta, and gelato in Milan and Italy. And also in my stomach!
But the thing that has really surprised me is the care with which Italians prepare these foods. There is, in fact, a correct way to boil pasta. Pizza means something very different here than Pizza Hut. And that gelateria IS better than the other one.
Basically, food is a serious topic here. It has been really interesting learning, also, about the special dishes unique to each region of Italy. Many regions also have their own signature styles of pasta noodles, even! For example, Puglia is the region that is the heel of the “boot” of Italy. This region is known for orecchiette, a particular shape of pasta which resembles a small ear (which makes sense since “orecchiette” means “little ears”!). Milan is actually known for its risotto, a dish which does not immediately come to mind when Americans picture “Italian” food. Risotto alla Milanese is a saffron-infused rice dish…I’ve had it also with asparagus and mushrooms. It is tasty and super filling!
In my opinion, food means many things here. It means routine. It means family. It means having the chance to take a break and enjoy life. It means taking care of yourself and also taking care of others. There seems to be almost no greater pleasure here than when someone can offer you a homemade dish, especially if it’s your first time trying it! And I find great comfort in this idea: to feed someone is to care for someone.
And it means routine. Almost everyone here wakes up bright and early to a nice cappuccino and perhaps a brioche (croissant). Lunch isn’t typically eaten until at least 1pm. But as soon as it is 1pm, every restaurant across the city is bustling! Most people here will take at least an hour to enjoy a more leisurely lunch than perhaps we are used to in the U.S. They sit down and enjoy a pizza or perhaps a salad or a panino (sandwich). Maybe afterwards they drink more coffee. And then it’s back to work! And finally, after a long day of school or work, they eat dinner around 8:30pm. This typically includes a “primo piatto” of a pasta and then a “secondo” which is typically meat or fish. And then a scrumptious gelato or tiramisu!
Part of the fun of studying in Italy is exploring the food culture here…and believe me, the few extra pounds are well worth it! And one thing is for sure: in Italy, there is never anything left on your plate at the end of a meal.
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<p>As an aspiring soprano opera singer, it is very clear why I chose to study abroad in Milan, the very city which houses the famous La Scala opera house! From St. Louis, MO originally, I currently study voice performance and Italian at Brandeis University near Boston, MA. I am an avid reader, dessert-enthusiast, and enjoy animals and taking leisurely strolls where I happen upon interesting people and places to explore. I am a triplet (with 2 brothers!) but am excited to be on my own, meeting new people and learning a bunch from locals and other students!</p>