The never ending story about Italians’ passion/obsession for food…
It doesn’t matter at what time you arrive home to your parents, friends, relatives or grandparents – in Italy, the first question is: Hai mangiato? (Have you eaten?)
I was brought up with the idea that cooking for someone is a way to show them you care, that you love them. Consequently, the first thought when someone walks in is “has he/she been fed”? meaning: “did someone take care of you today?” What better way to say "ti voglio bene" (I love you!).
I remember my grandma about three years ago after surgery. She was in the intensive care unit and partially unconscious. My husband walked in to pay her a visit and she asked him: “Hai mangiato? Do you want something? Shall I make some fried eggs?” I swear this was the exact exchange! Even in her semi-conscious state her first thought was to look after others via the common language of food. Needless to say, it’s been a story told over and over in our family!
The thing is… we love food, and yes, sometimes we are kind of obsessed by it. For lunch or dinner we have at least 3 courses – mainly a pasta dish, a main course and dessert or fruit. This is on a daily basis. When it comes to special occasions, we add a couple of courses like starter, canapés or a plate of cheese. For very special occasions like Christmas or Hogmanay, for example, each course is doubled (at least!) and you end up with a gigantic six to twelve course menu degustazione, or tasting menu, that takes hours to be consumed.
As a consequence I’m not very surprised that one of the most famous quotes about Italian food is one ascribed to George Miller – “the trouble with Italian food is that five or six days later you are hungry again”.