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Food, Meals & Celebrations

There must be a reason that life in Italy is just a bit better. Is it that God created the world in six days and once he looked back he wasn’t too happy so he created Italy on day seven which was a Sunday? Could be…

Many times over, movies were made and articles written about the fact that meals just taste better in Italy, the wine tastes better and the soft rolling hills of Tuscany generate a perfect environment for farmers, chefs and artists to thrive. 

I strongly believe it also has to do with the fact that Italians generally have a lot of respect for the products they grow and the people who work the fields, prepare the meals and work in the food industry.

In the US we enjoy food but a burger tastes pretty much the same from coast-to-coast. Food is processed and tastes «bland» (sorry America!). Sure there are exceptions such as Thai or Mexican food. And as soon as we put down our fork at a restaurant we receive the check with a smile and are asked to vacate our table for the next party. 

Not so in Italy. Recently my wife Ulli and I pulled off the autostrada about 20 miles outside Firenze (Florence) and drove straight into the countryside without a real plan. After a few miles we noticed a small road sign «Ristaurante RIVASUD». We followed an unpaved road through a couple of open fields to a Tuscan-style building literally in the middle-of-nowhere. Two cars were parked outside. We stuck our nose through the door to see if the restaurant was open. We were greeted by a bearded gentleman who asked us in and showed us to a table for two overlooking the banks of a river. The menu was written on a black board. He took his time to explain each of the approximately 12 dishes offered for lunch. His face lit up when we asked for his recommendation. He disappeared behind the bar and slipped a piece of paper into the kitchen. What followed was a celebration: Wine, antipasti, tortellini filled with potatoes and tagliatelle with a Bolognese-style sauce. All fresh ingredients prepared with love and served hot. At the end he recommended tiramisu as it was made by his «Mama». Unfortunately we did not get to meet «Mama» as we would have kidnapped her to bring her back home with us. The lunch took over two hours and we had to ask for the check three times before the maestro remembered to stop by our table. Simply fantastico! We left with a smile on our faces. 

In Italy each meal is a celebration, fresh food is prepared with love and everybody involved in the process is treated with respect. Bravo!