What better way to start than with the food?
If there’s one item from the vast repitoires of Italy’s kitchens with which most Americans are familiar, it’s pizza. I must say, pizza is quite delicious in Roma, and certainly average pizza in Roma is better than 99% of the pie here in the states. The real treasure, however, is in the funky, divey city of Napoli (Naples). Here you will find the granddaddy of modern pizza, with it’s puffy outer crust and flavorful dough. Pizza Margherita is the traditional dish in Napoli, and is the very picture of perfection through simplicity. The components are as follows:
- Pizza dough
- crushed tomatoes
- fresh buffalo mozzerela cheese
- sunflower oil
- fresh basil for garnish in the middle
That’s really it. There’s barely enough crushed tomato to cover the surface of the crust, and torn pieces of the fresh cheese scattered across the top, and a healthy drizzling of the oil. This is cooked fast and hot in what appeared to be a coal-fired brick oven as old as the 1923 restaurant in which Valerie and I sampled it. The result? Savory, smokey crust you could eat by the pound, even without toppings. Everything blended together like it was the way food was meant to be…
But I gush…
There was, of course, loads of pasta. Two particular culinary wonders stood out – the tortellini, far more tasty than any here in the states, and just about anything served “alla bolognese”. The latter were dishes served in a simple but intensely flavorful meat sauce, so good you’d crave it by the spoonful if you’d had it.
And finally, the gelato. Words cannot describe the Italian perfection of ice cream, so I will not attempt such heresy.
In fact, I need to stop writing now, because the lack of food from the Mother Land is quite depressing.