Why I love Italy

I don’t need to tell any of you that Italians take their food really, really seriously……so seriously they treat food like a religion and it’s one of the things that makes me warm and fuzzy all over when I think about Italy and the Italians.

This love affair, affinity and spiritual relationship with food starts at birth and continues through an Italian’s life – clocks are set by food, relationships are forged over it and Countries conquered by it (metaphorically speaking). Their is nothing more social on the face of this great planet than food and the Italians do it better than any other Country I have had the luck to spend time in.

Italians like to impress – they are all Sun Glasses and Ferrari’s (and that’s a quote from my Italian Brother) and this filters into their food..how couldn’t it! Whilst Sun Glasses and Ferrari’s all great they are soul less and passing however when someone is impressing you with great food that stays with you for the rest of you natural life!

Here’s an example – I spent time with Sister and her family in Puglia, Italy and on what was supposed to be nothing more than a quick whistle stop visit to an Aunt’s house we ended up being ‘commanded’ to stay and eat with them even though we had reservations for a Trattoria in town. Nothing was going to allow us leave that house and I mean nothing…no matter how much we politely declined!!

Out came a mountain of rustic Southern Italian sausages, the fire place in the middle of the kitchen was lit and stoked up and we essentially had an indoor barbecue…reservations and the prospects of one final Pizza before going home where long forgotten….simply because there was an over riding desire to impress, look after, and delight….with food…..and by God did they hit the mark!!

Ever had a Charcuterie Board?
A lacklustre little wooden board with some passable slices of sleeping cold cuts on it with maybe a few chunks of non-descript cheese? I certainly have, and I have to say I have been impressed by some of them….until this drops on your lap:

Now that is a  Charcuterie board, that is how it should be done…..that’s how the Italians do it. And why, well to fucking impress the living day lights out of you….hits the mark doesn’t it!! The funny thing with this though is that while I was blown away by it my Italian friends where pretty apathetic towards it…they ate it don’t get me wrong they milled through this but for them this was standard…anything less than this would have been treated with derision!

 Things can shift very dramatically in Italian when it comes to food – moving from the rustic and ramshackle to the more sublime and delicate but the one big, big constant is the quality and flavour…granted our Italian brethren have to add very little in the way of enhancements to their food it’s quality is there already and this is simply because of the Med Terroir…something we sorely lack around Northern Europe! The other huge factor is that Italians will simply not settle for bad food….and that has been the key to their culinary success throughout history (along with the Spanish and the French)…bad food is punishable by death (or maybe it should be?)

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