Travel is a wonderful reminder that the world outside of the U.S. still eats & loves carbohydrates. There are whole populations of people who eat pasta, pizza, croissants, and bread every meal, every day. Even more startling, these people are not any fatter, thinner, or less healthy than us. How did I come to this conclusion? I looked.
As I roamed the street of Rome (hehe) feeling horribly guilty & equally elated about the gelato in hand, I look around and saw all different types of people. I’m sure some were tourist but a majority of them were Romans…Italians. I was struck by the thought that they were living just as I was living. They were eating this food, walking these streets, sleeping under this same moon; why should their definition of what is acceptable & healthy be any different than mine? Why should they be able to eat this food that I was gaga for without guilt, or remorse, or punishment? Why should they be so excited to see the pasta arrive rather than frightfully counting calories? What should they enjoy while I deprived?
The Answer? I shouldn’t and I wouldn’t and I won’t!
I took a seat of on a set of church steps and decided. I decided that what my body truly craved, desired, longed for was all right. And I’m not talking pain eating, anger eating, sadness eating, or bored eating. I’m talking about love eating, happiness eating, & joy eating. Where what you eat is good, and whole, and hearty, and real! And when that’s the case? You eat as much as you need.
I began to eat like an Italian. To smell ever dish that was presented, to ‘oh’ and ‘ah’ the fresh produce in the outdoor markets, to inspect the bakery case, and to order what I wanted on a menu, and eat until I was full not stuffed or hangry.
Pizza from Bonci
Pasta from Li Mani in Pasta
Local Veggies, Cheese & Charcuteri at Teastevere.
Isn’t it all so beautiful!
As we left Rome, I felt overwhelmed. This city, the people, the food had touch me. They lingered on my skin, and in my hair, within my very person. I was changed after the time I spend in Rome. Closer to the person I wished to be & am better for it.
We took a train to a near by village in the Umbria region of Tuscany called Orvieto.
There my senses were filled with the local & the fresh. I was available to what the world & Italy had to show me.
What I found were the details that hold the world together. They are simple and pure and real. Aristotle’s quote, ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ was no longer true for me. The grape before it has ripened, the red velvet of a chair, the missing portion of a once lavish opera house wall. These detail truly make up the world. They are the ingredients that eventually make a up an apple spice cake, separate & together all at once. At first you see the cake, beautiful & golden, but when you take a bite suddenly you get reflections of nutmeg & ginger, you feel the grit of the flour on the roof of your mouth, and the softened sweet texture of the apples against your tongue. What was…is not. It is something anew. And now you love the cake even more because it is many things and one thing all at once.
On the last day we stopped at a local sheep cheese house. We met the farmer/cheesemaker. He was small & kind. He showed us the stages of cheese; from sheep, to milk, to curd, to form, to wheel. He allowed us to enter his cave, taste some cheese, and buy a wheel. He shook our hands and waved as we drove away.
We smuggled our wheel back into the US, “No Sir, nothing to declare.”
A week after our return we cut the wheel open, popped a bottle of red wine, sliced local bread, and shared our contraband with family. The details & carbs came together as we told stories & enjoyed one another’s company.
Yes, Italy is where I fell in love with carbohydrates, where I allowed myself to accept love over anxiety, and where I learned that that sum of the parts can be sometimes even greater than the whole.