In the distant past it was a common belief that East of Asia Eden could be found. Countless merchant ships relentlessly searched for a place, a compass point, a tangible position on a map where Paradise lost could be rediscovered. The biblical location of Eden may have pointed to the East but the gastronomic location of the garden of earthly delights most certainly was to the West. If Eden had a taste it would be Italy. For no country is more perfectly constructed for the enjoyment of food and wine to the benefit of man than l’italia.
The 16th century Italian writer, Teofilo Folengo wrote of a country with “rivers full of soup which ran together into a lake and a sea of stew in which plying to and fro were thousands of boats made of pastry with shores of tender fresh butter and on them hundreds of saucepans smoking to the clouds with ravioli, macaroni and other delights”. Although these imaginative accounts of the culinary landscape of Italy are part of the diversional storytelling of a Renaissance poet, the foods you will taste while traveling in Italy are truly gastronomic wonders.
Traveling in Italy without taking the time to understand the traditions behind regional Italian cuisine will only allow you to experience Italy on the most superficial of levels. Most Americans think they know what Italian food tastes like, but without knowing the background, traditions and ingredients necessary to be authentic they don’t.
Make the most of your travels in Italy. They may be as close to Eden as you can get on earth.