One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about Italy has been the food culture. It’s more than just sitting down for a meal and gulping it down. I’ve learned that food here brings people together and it’s an experience that requires time, patience, and presence.
Having a hearty meal is one of the most important things to Italians. They even close shops in the middle of the day for lunch break for at least three hours. Back in the US, this would be seen as a huge inconvenience. However, I beg to differ. I believe the US has something to learn from Italy in this aspect. In the states, it’s normal for people to speed through their meals whether it’s breakfast or lunch. The only time people might actually sit down and properly enjoy their meal and the company they’re in is dinner. Being rushed to finish a meal here would be considered a crime. Italians will spend hours having dinner, as I said before having a meal here is an experience. It’s not only a meal but a social event as well. People will conversate during and between courses. Being at the dining table is considered a sacred time and it must be properly valued.
The preparation of meals has also been quite an experience here. I’ve done something like two cooking classes here. One of them was a tortellini-making class and the other was a tiramisu lesson. Arguably two of the most delicious dishes you could have here in Bologna and surprisingly they aren’t at all difficult to make. It blows my mind how flavorful yet simple these dishes are.
I think my favorite of these two classes was making the tiramisu. Mostly because it was more hands-on, we were following a family recipe, and we were put in groups which made the experience a little more competitive and entertaining. It was also during this time that I got to meet some of the people from my program that I hadn’t had the chance to talk to yet. To say the least we were cracking jokes and spilling whipped cream all over the place; we got along pretty well right off the bat.
This is what food culture in Italy consists of; coming together with friends and family, preparing, and sharing a meal that could very well last hours. It’s an experience that totally makes you rethink the way one should go about having their meals. I’ve come to understand meals to be more than just food, they’re also social occasions.