Zach and I didn’t really plan the sites to see on our Italy trip before we came. We do it more on a day-to-day basis. One thing we both agreed on without a doubt on the plane ride to Bologna was we would be eating pizza, pasta, and gelato for every meal. And we have accomplished this awesome goal so far! (Except for breakfast, which is usually some chocolate bread goodness that they sell at grocery stores for extremely cheap here. Need to make sure we get that sugar intake first thing in the morning!)
Let me say that I am not a big foodie. I mean I LOVE food and love to eat but I wouldn’t consider myself a good judge on ingredients and what is better or worse than something else. I just like to eat. So because of this, I was skeptical if I would really be able to tell a difference with pizza and pasta.
Our first night in Italy, we found this little pasta-to-go restaurant along the canals of Venice. And, being our first night in Italy, we thought this “pasta-to-go” was the best invention known to mankind. We did not realize until two weeks later at the end our trip that these pasta places are all over the place.
This first night, we talked to the owner of the restaurant who started his own restaurant chain. He even invented this pasta maker that could make six individualized servings of pasta at the same time. It was incredible!
So we sat down to eat our delicious meal and I am suddenly overwhelmed with possibly the best idea I’ve ever had: a pasta-to-go food truck in Texas! Forget all the education I’ve had to become a social worker. Forget our future plans. Yes! This is it. This is my life’s purpose! To sell pasta out of the back of a truck.
And with each bite I am becoming more and more excited. I start coming up with names for this food truck and all the while Zach is just sitting, nodding in his head, eating his pasta. Of course in this flurry of genius I think he is nodding along to my idea! I use it as incentive to keep creating.
But in one of my short breaths, he catches me and asks one small question, “Do you know how to make pasta?” No. I’ve never made it in my entire life. Just a minor detail 😉 Long story short: I haven’t given up hope yet!
The other side of food experiences in Italy is they have these really long dinners. The concierge at our last hostel in Rome was telling us about some dinners he had that have lasted over four hours. Sitting for dinner longer than an hour is a trial for me. I get bored too quickly. I want to move on to the next thing as soon as I finish eating. I mean, if I’m out to dinner with friends I don’t see often then yes I’m all about taking longer, but more than four hours? That seems excessive.
I feel like this alone says a lot about the different cultures. Mine in Texas is more of a fast paced style where you get as much as you can get done in a day. You move between things quickly and sitting around for long periods of time brings frowns and judgment stares along with it. (Not that I don’t love my binge watching sessions on Netflix, but overall I think this is a good picture.)
The same concierge said there was a similar difference even between Milan and Rome. He spoke of people in Milan with a bitter taste in his mouth. “They don’t take the time to enjoy life. They just move, move, move.” Even saying that when people from Milan want to vacation, where do they go? Rome! He said Romans had it right! They take time to enjoy life, but people from Milan say Romans are lazy with no work ethic.
I don’t like to think one way is right and the other way is wrong. I think life is all about balance. Some days do warrant more activity. And then on others we can appreciate our time to lie down and re-watch Gilmore Girls for the sixth time.
So because life is about balance, Zach and I did end up trying one of these dinners. And we stayed so long the waiter fell asleep in the corner while we were waiting for our check! I will say it was one of our best dinners, even beyond the delicious pasta and wine.
We had great discussions about things we were struggling with and things we were happy about. Things we could work on in our relationship and in ourselves as individuals. We laughed over shared embarrassments we’ve had so far this trip and for things to come. We admitted it’s hard to have dedicated time like this with each other during the regular work schedule and we don’t even have kids yet. And we promised to continue to have long dinners together even when we stop traveling.
I guess I did like the long dinner after all! Though I definitely could not eat everything that was put in front of me. Except for the tiramisu – there was no question whether I had room for that! Thanks for reading 🙂