Food Simple and Pure in Italy

Wednesday, 04 May 2011 23:01
Written by Gemma

The sea is incredibly beautiful today. What I love about the spring in Italy is that the air is so soft – dolce. What I love about living in small villages anywhere in the world is that people have time to talk. Italians particularly love to talk, in fact you cannot shut them up!   Sometimes when Pepe (my local fruit man) and I are having conversation for example about the local dialects in Pozzuoli, he has the amazing ability to bring everyone else into the conversation.  Soon everyone has joined and announced their opinion on the subject!!.......

His shop is never empty because he is such a friendly lovely person that people come into his shop just to have a bit of fun – a joke and a laugh which are the things that make life wonderful and the simple things wonderful.  Here it is the simplicity of life with the little things that bring a joy to everyone’s heart that one does not notice in the West that goes missed in the frantic pace of work, children and house. It is the simple things of life like food for example.  

Italians would not even consider eating a bad meal let alone a fried takeaway. These things ruin your stomach they say.... If they had to eat it, they would want to know if that fried take away was cooked in good clean oil made in an area with a good oil reputation otherwise they would rather starve - not worth the risk to ruin your stomach - that would be indeed a tragedy worse than death in Italy!!

Produce has to be the freshest otherwise normal people just will not buy it. If some vegetable is on its last day and has to be eaten today, Pepe will give it to me for nothing as he knows he will have to throw it out so I may as well eat it.  In the west it would be sold to you and for a high price.

Fruit and vegetables have a time life – only a couple of days just like in the old days.... before the genetically modified food was introduced in the west. Italy has banned genetic hybrids and I salute them for doing this.  Vegetables have such taste here and it is because they have not been modified to be able to travel long distances in refrigerated trucks or aeroplanes.  

A woman came into Pepe’s shop and asked for peas. He shook his head – “No peas are now finished – you will have to cook something else for lunch!!" he giggled.  It was so lovely to hear. “The peas have finished....!!!” – which means that the farmers have picked all the peas and they will not be growing more until the seasons tells them that they can and Pepe will not be importing peas from around the world because he knows the price will be outrageous and they will not taste as good as those picked fresh on the farm only a few kilometres away.

I think it is a tragedy that in the west we have lost the taste and flavour from our fruit and vegetables due to genetic hybrids and we have to fill our dishes up with garlic, onion or chilli to get a flavoursome dish. Here, these things are used only sparingly so as to not take away the true flavour of the food. There is only a hint not lashings. The simple things in life are actually the best.