There are times when Rick Steves and I don’t agree on things, but not this time. Before his narrative crashes and burns in the rubble of Italian politics, he writes of his wise friend Franklin in a World Hum post titled In Italy, ‘A Good Restaurant Should Come With a Bed’
“In Italy, you don’t need to be high class to appreciate high culture, cuisine, opera. It’s the only culture I know like this. Here, a heart surgeon talks with a carpenter about cuisine.”
It’s one of the things I really like about Italy, the democracy of good food. In America, it seems that the best ingredients are gobbled up by the chefs who are famous enough to be able to charge an arm and a leg for cooking them, while precious little thought is given to the quality of the basics by the family run restaurants. When I’m off visiting my mother in Illinois, I’m flabbergasted at the stench people can get away with putting on a plate. In the heart of the country’s most fertile farmland, people are getting frozen crap from heaven knows where and frying it up in rancid oil to serve to their countrymen and women.
It never seems to occur to them to ask a local farmer to keep a couple of heritage pigs out of confinement, raise them right, butcher them and sell them to the restaurant so good, wholesome food can be made from them. How hard can that be?
But I’m not sure that this democracy in food and music doesn’t apply to other places in Europe as well. Still, it’s front and center in Italy, and I’ll try to keep a residence here for as long as I can eat well and have a bed amongst the folks who lovingly produce my local food. Believe me, you sleep better at night knowing your food isn’t mucked about with by huge corporations who don’t give a damn for anything other than profit.
Of course, Enrico’s huge vegetable garden out back looks like a lake right now, what with all the rain and all. But someday the deluge will stop, I’m sure, and we’ll soon be picking “regina di insalata” or the “queen of salad” to drizzle a stream of Enrico’s olive oil over and eat like kings.
Let’s discuss food, Italy, and even Portuguese cuisine and mountain biking over on the Wandering Italy Facebook Page, ok?