Living in Italy - Part 15: What makes food in Italy taste so good?

fruits and vegetablesIn principle, this could be the shortest blogpost I ever wrote:

Question: "What makes food in Italy taste so good?"
Answer: "The ingredients"

Here is the longer version:

In a world where as a consumer, we want to have any type of vegetable or fruit in the shop, at any time during the year, we gradually slide into the habit of eating "plastic". There is no other word for a fruit or vegetable which was picked while unripe, only growing to its mature size (and of course its perfect look) while transported in an under-cooled container.

I remember the perfect December strawberries at breakfast in New York: shiny bright red on the outside, and white on the inside. Nothing but water. No taste whatsoever.
Same - or even more so - in Dubai, where fresh vegetables were almost non-existent. As local living habits were on the route to become North American, so were the eating habits. In the supermarkets, it all looked perfect: apples, asparagus, berries, oranges. Big sizes too. But taste like water.

And on top of that, upon popular demand by the consumer, fruits and veggies can not go off fast. We should be able to keep them in the fridge for three weeks at least... Plastic goes for ever, no? God knows what they treat veggies with to keep "fresh" for a month.

Not so in Italy. In general, you can only buy fruits and vegetables which are in season. The taste is like I have never experienced before. But you have to use it within the next days, as they go off in no time.

Look at this freshly picked Tuscan tomato a friend brought from her garden. See its colour, its firmness?

Tuscan Tomatoe

Freshly picked, it made a lovely meal by itself. But, amongst the two dozen tomatoes, there was one unripe tomato. Still firm green. Just for the curiosity, I left it on the cupboard for four weeks. When eventually it was ripe, it looked perfect, just like the others, but tasted like nothing. Why? It did not ripen in the sun, on its vine as the other tomatoes did. It grew to maturity on my cupboard.

Look at this salsa I made: the only ingredient were freshly picked Tuscan tomatoes. I added some herbs and let it all broil for two hours. Look at the intensity of the colour, look how firm it is. If I'd do this with Belgian tomatoes, it would be all watery with only a hint of red.

And that is one of the reason I love to live in Italy.

More about Living in Italy on The Road

Top picture courtesy Nanaimo Info Blog


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