Gluten-free or not, everything just seems to taste better in Italy. I’m sure part of it has to do with being on vacation. But the love and attention paid to food in this country clearly shows. My first trip to Italy was for a study abroad program in 1998. It was during that summer that I met Eliana, a bright, beautiful girl with an indomitable spirit. Little did I realize at the time that we would become dear friends, spending subsequent summers and trips together in Rome, Sicily, Pescara, Terni and even New York.
After leaving Lucca, I took the bus to Firenze (Florence) where Eliana greeted me with a huge hug and Italian kisses. She was kind enough to open her home to me for four days of my vacation.
My first night there I didn’t want to trouble her too much over gluten-free dinner options. I explained that I ate a huge lunch and that I would be fine nibbling on a few things I had brought with me. She looked at me and scolded – “Ma Cate, in Italia si mangia!” “But, Catherine, in Italy you eat!” To Eliana it was no trouble to make something safe for my tummy. She proceeded to put together a salad so full of flavor with such simple ingredients I could hardly believe it. Olives, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, chickpeas and lettuce dressed with olive oil and salt. I tried recreating it at home last week, but it just wasn’t the same.
Jars of spices and olive oil fill the kitchen that I have had the pleasure of dining in more times than I can count.
Next stop: my adventures in Gluten-Free Gelato