Italy and Asian Food
*Sidenote: obviously I have not spent so much time in different areas of Italy (big cities) where there may in fact be a huge selection of different cultures, foods, restaurants etc. I am writing from my experiences in and around Chieti and Abruzzo*
There are many things I miss about Canada when I am here in Italy but one of the big ones in the endless isles of "foreign" food and ingredients. Not just isles, whole stores dedicated to foods from all over the world. Now, it's not that these kind of places don't exist in Italy, it's just that I have never been to one. They have (not surprisingly) whole isles dedicated to pasta, tomato sauce, olives etc and sometimes (not always) they will have a little "world" section. Strangely enough, you can find some good things there. Just the other day we visited Simply grocery store for the second time and I discovered their "world" section and I also discovered what I've been missing in my Italian life...SRIRACHA! Unfortunately, due to the fact that I leave in just a little over a month, I did not buy it because I'm the only one that uses it. No one knows what it is! You can find specialities from England, Asia, Africa, North America etc. I'm eager to buy nori and try my hand at sushi because they have a huge section of items for making sushi.
Then you're presented with your dining options which are full of variety (if you like Italian food) but lacking in cultural variety. Italians love Asian food. If there's anything I've eaten in Italy that hasn't been Italian, it's most likely been Asian (once we have Iranian and I had some of the best Indian food in Florence) food - sushi, fried rice, tempura, spring rolls etc. Asian buffets are super popular, they're everywhere. Actually, part of the reason I decided to write about all the Asian food in Italy is because when we were walking this morning we saw a van with an ad on the side of it for an Asian restaurant that we actually haven't tried yet, so I did the obvious thing that was to go home and search for reviews on tripadvisor and facebook. And here I am writing about Asian food. Maybe because I am hungry and waiting for lunch, actually yes, that's mostly why!
I have visited Rome 4 times now, I've walked around my love's brother's neighbourhood, I've walked all over the centre of Rome, the only restaurant (and it's not even a sit down restaurant, it's just basically a window) I saw that wasn't Italian was a falafel place in M's neighbourhood. Then there's the other side of that coin which is when I visited Florence with my dad, I was sick and we weren't in the mood for Italian anymore so I tried to see what I could find that wasn't Italian. To our surprise there were many Indian restaurants, African and various other random nationalities. Strange but awesome and luckily one of the top rated Indian places was just a couple of blocks away form us. Before that meal, I hadn't eaten Indian food for years and the stuff I had had wasn't the best (from a local place in Peterborough that thinks it's the bomb...it ain't). We were so happy! The fact that Rome was lacking in food diversity and Florence was seemed to be in the game was fascinating to me. Florence is on the smaller side of cities, Rome is definitely on the larger side of cities and it was palpable the difference in food variety. Another wonderful place my dad and I discovered in Florence (and we went back multiple times a day) was this juice bar with a huge selection of freshly made juices. As far as I know this is not overly popular in Italy, freshly made juice is but not shops dedicated to the making of it.