In Italy, I’ll never get fat
But it was only the last time I came back that I noticed a pattern which made me fall in love with Italy even more. I lose at least a couple of kilos whenever I am travelling to Italy despite lack of sleep (I am afraid of ghosts and usually very alert during the night waiting for them) and binge eating on pizza and gelato.
Contrary to my trips in France, Belgium or Spain where I can gain half a kilo with just one meal. Blame it to the foie gras, the thick sauces and the irresistible desserts they make there.
Whereas in Italy, one serving of a simple tomato pasta is enough to fuel me the whole day and a slice of bacon pizza and a small cup of gelato can already count as a hearty dinner. Italians also love fish and seafood and those can be very healthy.
Whether I’m eating a plateful of frutti di mare at one of the al fresco restaurants by the Venetian Lagoon, or a freshly-made asparagus, ham and cheese sandwich at the terrace of Taverna al Ponte in Bassano del Grappa or savoring courgette and prawn pasta cooked al dente at Quarte Sayal at the baywalk of Alghero in Sardinia, I never eat Italian without a nice glass of wine. It seems that in Italy, you can hardly go wrong with a choice of wine unless you get very stingy.
And I am not even so crazy about pasta.
In Italy, I’ve also discovered some ways of cooking pasta which appeal very much to my palate. Unfortunately I haven’t *yet successfully executed in my kitchen. One of these is a vegetarian dish called pasta melanzane which is almost like lasagna but made with thinly-sliced aubergines (eggplants) instead of lasagna. I’ve had what probably was the perfect melanzane at Caffe delle Arti in Cagliari, a restaurant located at the old fortress, which provides a gorgeous view of Cagliari during sunset.
Of course there are also misses. And that’s a dish called Bigoli in Salsa , first meal on my first Italian trip. I went to this small restaurant in Lido island and asked the waiter to serve me a traditional Veneto dish. He came with big plate of pasta, laden with anchovies and onions. It was so salty that no amount of Pinot Gris was able to wash off.
I think I’ve only eaten meat once in Italy, a sinful slab of succulent beef at Ibutteri in Rome. It was served sizzling hot and you can see the fat dripping from the sides of the meat. It was the most delicious sight. And the aroma of that fat melting, burning a little bit on the hot plate was unforgettable and would haunt a meat-lover forever.
Don’t even let me start on the gelato and the desserts. Did I say they don’t make yummy desserts as they do in France? Well not many but enough to keep you drooling.
In Sardinia, a kababayan took me to Gelateria Peterpan in the centre of Cagliari. On summer afternoons this place is full to the brim and you have to get in the line that starts from the outside to sample their delicious varieties.
“When you see that the container and the spoon is very clean when they scoop your gelato, that means it’s a good gelato. This ice cream should be based only from milk but other producers mix milk with water which then melts when the gelato is on the container,” explained Elmer who said that Gelateria Peterpan is only the second most famous in Cagliari. Good thing my cone of ice cream and vanilla already satisfied me otherwise I would have gone to the best gelateria.
And still despite all these, I still lose weight in Italy. So when you are there, eat to your heart’s content. Don’t be afraid of the extra calories.
When I left Venice at 7am last Friday, exhausted from the lack of sleep and the weeks of travelling, I said that I don’t want to return to Italy soon. But looking back to these wonderful meals that we’ve shared together, I’m almost ready to catch the first flight back.