What is the first thing you think of when planning a trip to Italy?
Ruins, scooters, Italian men boldly wearing red pants, wine, Tuscan hill towns, medieval towns, plump Italian mothers, wine…
If you are anything like me, your first thought is that delicious, carbohydrate filled food.
I’ve been to Italy many times and have even taken cooking and language classes there; however on this recent trip to Italy I had a unique opportunity to travel as a local and begin to understand the non-touristy side of Italy. Thanks to the hospitality of my friend Vera and her family, I was able to get a special look into the culture of Italy – and of course to focus on the food.
I arrived during the holiday season and was treated to cultural food and traditions I had never experienced before in Italy.
The traditional Christmas and New Year dish is not pasta…it’s lentils. Cottechino or Zampone is a hearty lentil dish served with cooked salami (normally the whole pig leg for a visual treat). It’s a hearty winter dish that will warm you up inside. But most importantly the lentils represent your good monetary luck in the new year; so don’t be afraid to eat a lot of lentils…your pocketbook will thank you.
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