Italian television has begun to provide access to American food shows with exception of the Food Network that does not even allow Europeans to see video content from their food articles on the internet. My friends are shocked to see food piled onto plates, consumed by eating activists with a high-wattage passion for large sized portions. A perfect example is the program Man Versus Food. It is amazing to see the host grow in size through the year of eating his way through America. After several seasons he was forced to change the format and have others competing for top glutton.
Another show popular in the mainstream here is produced by the Brit, Jamie Oliver. He has a knack for showmanship and in one series he visited American schools and made a serious attempt at changing the offerings in school cafeterias. He was met with mean spirited and angry officials afraid to examine their carbohydrated menus. Oliver features programs more closely to Italian thinking. He clearly voices his dissent against the propensity of fast food restaurants.
Italy does not have a fastfood joint on every street corner with a food court in the middle of every mall. This clear difference has saved Italians from becoming over weight, and there are far fewer overweight people in italy. This is written to make a point that when dining in Italy do not expect that American sized pile of food. Here in the north if you order a pasta dish it will be much smaller than what you receive in America. There will be a whole lot less sauce. It will be mixed into the pasta, not piled on top. They consider that pasta is more important than the sauce, a compliment to the pasta, not the other way around. It’s all about enjoying the flavor, not filling the stomach.
Italian children are more allowed to wander away from their parent’s table, and this can be quite distracting to me. Children are regarded by Italian parents as cute and adorable, and the result of this is that these little darlings are allowed the freedom to share themselves with other diners. It is a bit annoying to enjoy your well prepared food and have some kid running by your table chasing the cat or pigeons. Imagine the waiter’s job as he arrives balancing four plates of food while a 4 year old is racing underfoot. Restaurants here have begun to provide high chairs for toddlers which has helped the problem a bit.
I have begun to see a separate children’s menu, but do not expect this. You can ask the waiter to bring a smaller portion of food from the menu for your child. Most likely they will charge less for this plate. Booster seats for older children are unheard of, I have seen tablecloths and piles of napkins used for booster seats on a regular chair. Change is coming but it is slow.
The next post will continue the same subject.