Perhaps more than any other country, when you think of Italy, you think of its food and perhaps its wine. Where other countries have led us only down the route of the take-away, Italian food has infiltrated our kitchens, our store-cupboard staples, our recipe books.
Italian ingredients are standard in our supermarkets – no longer found in the ‘international’ aisle. Pasta forms the basis of meals in most households. And yet, there is such a difference between the two cultures. The popularity of pasta in the UK is due surely to its being ‘fast food’. Pop some pesto on some pasta, and bingo. Or, ‘Done’, to quote Ramsay.
In Italy, the speed of the pasta dish is a happy incidental benefit. But instead of putting the pasta on the boil and coming back to check on it during the ad break, the Italians are dedicated to the preparation of, and the proper, respectful treatment of the ingredients. It’s about slowing down and enjoying the cooking, the eating, the sharing of the food and the mealtime.
Speedy, Delicious Food
What has endeared people to Italian cooking is not just the speedy meals but the simplicity; the dishes seem more than the sum of their parts – just like a family. So is the key to living like an Italian appreciation? Appreciation of time, of local ingredients, of the people who help prepare and eat and enjoy the food? What it isn’t about is the pursuit of one thing to the exclusion of others.
Balance, appreciation, and well-being. Does it make you want to go to Italy? Does it make you want to be an Italian? Of course, it helps to have olive oil produced on your doorstep, and lemons, cured pork, basil, grapes, tomatoes, olives and mozzarella. It helps to live in a climate which allows for – encourages – long, languid outdoor meals and a large glass of red.
It helps to take things easy, to go home for your lunch, to switch off the television while eating and to talk to your companions. It helps to be passionate about your life and what you put in it, be it cars or art, and to be passionate about your body and what you put in it – and on it (because you can’t deny the fashion any more than the food).
All this adds up to the good life: everyone knows about la dolce vita. And everyone knows about al dente. To share in the Italian passion, find a Jet2holidays.com deal to one of Italy’s many airports.