(image credit: Emma Pizzaria)

Ah, Italy. What a beautiful cornucopia of deliciousness you are. How dare you pair your beautiful sights with that gentle caress for cooking you have so mastered. You bestow upon every citizen, tourist, and study abroad meals to satiate even the deepest of hungers.

A bit melodramatic? Maybe, but my admiration for the food of this country runs deep. There is no comparison and I have never felt so blessed not to have a dining center on campus. It has forced me to learn how to shop (and in Italian, no less), and it has also encouraged daily exploring. There is no shortage of bakeries, gelaterias, pizzerias, cafés, and restaurants, and every one proves more wonderful than the last.

In my time since being here, I have embarked on many kitchen adventures. While sitting with my apartment mates, we have had many discussions about eating on a budget and consider ourselves brilliant shoppers thanks to the discovery of the 75 cent giant bag of pasta. You would be surprised at how far that can go.

I’ve mastered the art of making pasta the perfect Italian al dente and crafted the perfect meat sauce. I can sauté basically anything and cannot fathom ever living in a home without olive oil.

Of course, our own cooking prowess is nothing compared to that of actual Italians. The Italian friends that we have made are a God send in their willingness to come to our apartment and cook dinner for us.

My pasta skills have nothing on theirs. They are the true Jedis in their craft. Some of the best food I have ever eaten in my life has been here. Two euro pizza from the pizzeria down the road is proof that man could truly find world peace if he tried hard enough.

Biscotti gelato puts Ben & Jerry’s to shame — not that I don’t have a constant homesick hankering for a tub of The Tonight Dough. If you are ever so lucky to end up in Italy, get yourself some arancini, stat. Rice and sauce and meat and cheese all fried up into a ball. Buon appetito!

If you really want to understand a place, look first to their food. Food is such an integral part of a culture and it can tell you so much about what a certain society values, loves, and lives. Dinners that last for three hours in the company of friends are, to me, one of the most beautiful shared experiences that we as people can have. No one rushes. There is no hurry to get the check, and time is just a creation of man, meant to broken and ignored.

Let’s just say that it’s a good thing I have to walk a mile to school and that I climb an average of 17 flights of stairs a day.

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