Wednesday, December 15, 2010

At the Grocery

Italian grocery stores are pretty different from stores in America.  Almost everything in the store is from Italy so that means no ingredients to cook internation food (Mexican, Asian, etc).  There are not aisles and aisles of processed food like in the States.  No doritos, no flavored potato chips, no soups in cans, no bottled salad dressings.  Hydrogenated oils are banned in much of Europe.  So margarine is actually illegal.

Now I am used to the new way of shopping and actually prefer it.  However, this time of year, I am making many of my traditional recipes and am once again missing American ingredients.

Here's my top ten list of things I wish I could buy here:

1.  Brown sugar
2.  Sour cream
3.  Plastic bags (like ziplock)
4.  Cheddar cheese
5.  Goldfish crackers
6.  Italian sausage (they sell sausage here but honestly it is not the same and not as good as the "Italian" sausage from stores in America)
7.  Ranch dressing
8.  Self rising cornmeal (I could probably use polenta but I haven't gone to the trouble to figure out how.)
9.  Cilantro
10. Corn on the cob (They only sell corn in cans.  Never fresh, not even frozen.  Only in cans.)
11.  I know I said 10 things but I have one more.  I miss breakfast food like English muffins, bagels, bacon, etc.

I could go on but really, I don't miss the things I used to eat.  We can do without the frozen burritos.  My husband lost 10 pounds within the first couple months of living in Italy.  Even though he probably eats more food here, the quality of the food is better.  Turns out the packaged food he ate for lunch on the go was packing on the pounds, but a three course lunch with fresh ingredients doesn't.  Hmmm.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I Libri

Addesso e inverno, now it is winter, and time to be cozy and read a good book.  Here's a list of books about Italy that I have enjoyed.  All are set within 30 or 40 miles of where we live.

Italian Neighbors by Tim Parks
Written by a British guy who lived in Italy for 10 years.  Almost everything in this book has happened to me or someone I know.

Playing for Pizza by John Grisham
Cute, easy read set in Parma about an American pro football player who ends up playing in Italy.  I was in the middle of reading this when I met our doctor and friend for the first time.   He is an American who has lived in Italy over 25 years and guess what, used to be the quarterback of an Italian football team here.  This is American football, not soccer.

 The Broker by John Grisham
Another fast read set in Bologna.  Great descriptions of Italian life, architecture, and food.

Leonardo's Swans by Karen Essex
Historical fiction about the Este family who ruled Ferrara for centuries. Da Vinci painted two of the Este princesses and this book centers around them.  Set in Milan and Ferrara.

Now I am in the middle of reading Ciao America.  It is the exact opposite of what I am living now.  It is written by an Italian who moves to America for a year.  The first thing he does in his American house is try to close the shutters but of course American shutters don't move.  He is completely confused by American air conditioners and why anyone would want it to be 70 degrees inside when the outside temp is over 100.  The book is a bit outdated (it was written in the late '90s) but still interesting to read that Italians are as confused in America as we often are in Italy.

Happy reading!

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