Why is Italian food so good?

A few months ago, I went on a foodie pilgrimage we took a trip to Italy. My taste buds were so happy. Though literally everything was mind blowing, here are some food related memories I NEVER want to forget.

Everything at an osteria in Milan.

The osteria is a cool dining experience, and everything this one made was over the top delicious. To my surprise, osterias bring out a few complementary dishes over the course of the meal- we ordered a meat and cheese plate, a meat dish, and a pasta, and they also brought us free prosecco, free amuse bouche, and free THE BEST risotto of my life.

The risotto was made with the most flavorful Parmesan and was balanced with crisp, slightly sweet fried onions. Risotto is also a Milanese dish so maybe that had something to do with its amazingness.

Which brings me to the next mind blowing among the mind blowing- ossobucco. This was a slow cooked cow dish soaked in flavors, so if you like melt in your mouth veal with a flavor explosion, you’ll like this. It’s also another Milanese speciality.

And the pasta was their special for the day and had a medley of wild mushrooms cooked in white wine and magic. Always try a restaurant’s special for the day for maximum creativity and freshness.

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Photographs bad, tastes good

Aperitivo in Milan

Italian culture understands me so well! I like campari, spritzers, vermouth, gin. Aperitifs include campari, spritzers, vermouth, gin. I get hungry when I drink certain drinks. Aperitifs supposedly open up your palate. I like variety in foods and eat often. When you go out for aperitifs with your friends, you can eat a lot of different (sometimes free!!!) snacks to prepare you for dinner. I call this my life. Italians call this aperitivo.

Anyway, an actual Italian could probably explain this better to you, but the drink+meal combination known as aperitivo is a great thing that everyone should experience. Milan is its hometown, so had many spots.

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But here’s a pizza instead because I drank all my spritzers before I could take a picture

A random dish at a random place in Venice

Many a time, the best things you find are not the things you plan on, expect, or research. We were in a residential part of Venice and went to a random restaurant and ordered a random dish that we couldn’t pronounce because we were famished, and it was the only main dish on the menu. It turned out to be probably my most favorite dish on the whole trip!

Perhaps because it was the special for the day and again, you should always try out a restaurant’s daily special for the freshest of foods, but also perhaps because no blog or YouTube channel talked it up- we had no expectations or ideas of what it would taste like. We found it on our own and we chose to go. Also the server started playing DMX loudly as soon as he saw me. Good music + good food = satisfied me.

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This is the magic dish- paccheri, shrimp, and zucchini

Coffee shop food in Rome.

You can get a cornetto e cappuccino for like €1. I would easily pay the typical Seattle price of $10 for mediocre versions of this combination because they were anything but mediocre. Another plus- the shops I would visit (perhaps coincidentally) had felt like a community, everyone knew everyone else, and most people were really friendly towards me, making jokes, teaching me Italian, showing me different types of cornetti.

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This one is stuffed with white chocolate

Gnocchi in Rome.

Sometimes tourist restaurants are where you eat because you’re unbelievably hungry and that’s all that’s around. Food and travel snobs frown on this, but whatever, I don’t care. In Italy, some still have awesome food- like the best textured gnocchi of my life. Like seriously, I went to a Michelin restaurant that Serious Eats recommended for gnocchi in Rome (and Serious Eats is my bible and I do everything they say)…

…And I liked this gnocchi better. Since touristy restaurants bring people from all over the world, it’s also cool to people watch and see a server switch effortlessly between English, French, Italian, and Spanish, and a table with people from completely different contents still able to communicate over broken English.

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Technically boyfriend ordered the gnocchi, which means I had two dishes and he starved. But, pictured on my side is bucatini all’amatriciana

Random spicy crunchy things outside Vatican City

This was another time where doing unplanned things in new areas paid off. We wandered into a hole in the wall taverna and ordered drinks to start, and to our surprise, we were given free whatever these were! I don’t know how to describe these because I don’t even remember what they were called, but I do remember the friendly server, hipster decorations, dark and yellow ambiance, and the satisfaction you get when you find new, exciting things while traveling. Life and travel to me and boyfriend isn’t necessarily checking things off lists, but going down untraveled paths, soaking in the slow route, looking at things with a different lens.

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UPDATE: I just learned that these are called tarelli!!

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