I love food. I dream about it, enjoy cooking it and, of course, love eating it. I also love to write, so I count myself very lucky that I’ve been given the opportunity to merge the two passions by working for The Eagle. I’ve loved writing about my culinary adventures while in Rome, but what I love more is how those culinary adventures will always remind me of my favorite memories of my semester in Italy.
I’ve already waxed poetic about Italian grocery stores, but I will always remember my first time stepping in one. Even three months after the fact, I still marvel at the cubed pancetta, hunks of aging pecorino and the slimy eels and octopi that stared at me through the glass case of the fish counter. But my first time grocery shopping in Italy was also the first outing with my roommates, when we first got to know each other. (I firmly believe you can tell a lot about a person by what they put in their shopping cart.)
The best meal I’ve had so far was at a small winery in Trequanda, Tuscany, when I visited in February. The meal was amazing: bruschetta and freshly sliced salami and prosciutto for antipasti, pappardelle with ragu, juicy roasted chicken and crispy potatoes and a sweet strawberry shortbread tart for dessert.
But I’ll remember that it was at that small winery where I bought my first bottle of wine. Admittedly, I felt cool and grown-up because I could finally buy wine without being carded! I also am painfully aware that I am super lame.
I had the best sautéed mussels in Salerno, a small town on the Amalfi coast over my spring break. They were plump, sweet and swimming in a garlicky, buttery broth. I soaked up the juices with hunks of crusty bread that the wait staff so wonderfully provided and finished with a gulp of my complimentary glass of Prosecco.
But the experience was so much bigger than me because I was there with my grandmother and my aunt: Salerno is where my grandmother’s grandparents were born and the town they left when they immigrated to America. I will always remember thinking that distant relatives of mine could have been sitting in that same restaurant, eating mussels just like I was.
And this past weekend, I spent a few hours on a small boat cruising around the island of Capri. The tour guide gave our group two bottles of complimentary strawberry wine, and we spent the time drinking it cup-by-cup, noshing on snacks and lolling in the hot sun. It’s my favorite memory thus far. Just hanging out with friends, surrounded by clear, blue water and marveling at how amazing our lives have felt since being here. Three months ago we were all strangers, surrounded by snow and wondering what life would be like once we were in Italy. Life has been good, and I’m glad I was able to share how good it was with you.