I just spent some much needed vacation time on the western coast of Italy – the Italian Riviera. Since my last post was on carbohydrates, I thought it would be a great time to share a bit about the food experience in Italy.
Many people associate “Italian Food” with pizza and pasta
In Italy, there are many restaurants where you can choose to eat those. The type of pizza you’ll find in this part of Italy is my favorite kind. And, the servings of pasta are much smaller than those in the U.S..
Here’s a shot of my seafood pasta dish from one night eating out. You can see that the serving is about as big as my hand, and much of it is protein (seafood).
No matter where you are in the world
when you go out to eat your chef isn’t thinking about how to cook so you can stay healthy or thin. A chef is thinking about how he or she can impress you with creativity, and the flavor of the meal – whatever it takes! At the same time, it’s not expected that you’re eating out every day.
If you want to eat like the locals in Europe
go to the local market in the morning and bring fresh food home to eat. In the mornings the farmers and the fisherman bring it all in. You’ll have your choice of the best foods around – and you’ll be able to truly taste the flavors of the area.
Every morning my family
went to the market and picked up fresh foods from the farmers. We ate like kings for about a quarter of the price we’d pay if we ate that well at a restaurant. Of course we tried some restaurants, but overall we enjoyed the taste of the fresh foods from the markets even more than restaurant food. We also liked the fact that we knew we were eating as healthy as the locals.
Things we brought back from the market regularly:
Fresh seafood, both cooked and raw.
Fresh fruits and vegetables and fresh meats.
Our typical breakfast:
Fresh sliced, meats from local farmers, bread, yogurt, tomatoes, basil, burrata, variety of fruit and coffee.
Our typical dinner:
Seafood (both cooked and raw) with lemon, olive oil, and pesto, several kinds of vegetables, and a side of pasta (and some wine).
For typical meals there is usually some pasta or bread, but it is a very small part of the overall table.
This is how pasta and bread should be eaten, (small and on the side) no matter where you are.
Snacks and lunches were leftovers from either meal.
For dessert every night we had a huge plate of most delicious fruit. Since getting back I crave all that fruit every day.
There was not much preparation with any of these meals except to cut and set it on the table.
If you’re in a spot where many tourist go, the vendors will be able to speak English and you can ask how specific foods are cooked or eaten. You might even get a couple of recipes so you can try a cultural favorite in your own kitchen. But ultimately, there’s really no need for a recipe. Most of the vendors recommended cooking their food with a little olive oil, salt or pepper, or a dash of pesto and that’s it. Why? Because…
High quality, fresh food tastes best
in its simplest state without loads of seasonings, oils, butter or cream. As a bonus, it’s easier to prepare. These are the kinds of recipes I offer in my blog – simple, yet delicious. Whether in Europe or in the U.S. fresh, local food, always tastes great. Instead of eating out sometime, treat yourself to a fresh meal as though you were on the Riviera.
Of course, we balance food with exercise.
Click here to see some of my most recent pictures of the Italian Riviera and find out how we exercise while on vacation.
Have you been to Italy?
If so, what was your experience there? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.