The obvious reason behind my decision to study abroad in Parma, Italy is that I really, really love food. As a point of reference, take the amount that you love food and multiply it by 10,000. Then you will love food half as much as I do.
I once read the quote “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” supposedly by Kate Moss, and I laughed so hard I nearly choked on the copious amounts of delicious food that I was eating. My personal philosophy on life comes from Andre 3000 in Frank Ocean’s “Pink Matter,” and it says all I will ever need to know: “If models are made for modeling, thick girls are made for cuddling.” Count me in.
In fact, my relationship with food beats any romantic relationship I’ve ever witnessed. Here are some reasons why:
- You don’t have to worry about whether or not food will text you back.
- If you get sick of a certain food, it won’t beg you to give it another chance.
- Food is better when shared with other people.
I intend to treat every meal while abroad as a date between myself, the contents of my plate and the people accompanying me. I’m sort of like Carrie Bradshaw as she blogs about her romantic life in "Sex and the City," only instead of being super glamorous and dating rich old men, I will be super hungry and eating plate after plate of pasta.
The first week of my abroad program took place in Florence as part of a month-long art history class, and one of my favorite meals so far was in a restaurant called Trattoria degli Artisti.
Walking into this particular restaurant was similar to going on a blind date: it's arranged by a complete stranger who knows nothing about you. The recommendation came from the man behind the counter in an Italian phone store, and he was likely just trying to get rid of the five American girls who couldn’t get their new phones to work and kept complaining of hunger.
We sat down at a table, and the meal got off to a slightly absurd start when we noticed the following painting on the wall:
This caused one of those moments when something isn’t even that funny but you can’t stop laughing and then suddenly you’re aware of (and embarrassed by) just how American you look. This incident sparked the following quote, which my friends and I use regularly when someone’s American roots are showing: “Your presence is literally humiliating to me.” If you’re ever trying to deeply insult someone, give it a go. This is an especially great line for a first date, probably.
For lunch, I ordered an eggplant pasta dish. You know how pictures of food usually turn out looking kind of gross and unappetizing? I don’t care, look at my plate!
When the waiter brought the plate out, I was still not convinced that this meal was going to be anything special. However, this blind date turned to a lifelong love connection at the very first bite. One thing that Italians do right is cook pasta al dente, meaning it is a little bit undercooked by American standards, and it is absolutely delicioso. Did I mention my Italian is very limited?
By the end of the meal, I was ready to offer the restaurant my hand in marriage for two reasons. First, free glasses of prosecco for all. It's common for Italian restaurants to offer a complimentary drink at the end of a meal, typically prosecco or limoncello.
Second, one table member whose presence was particularly humiliating that day was unable to eat more than a few bites of her pasta due to residual stomach pain from the previous night’s festivities. Instead of taking insult, the waiter removed her meal from our bill without us even thinking to ask. It was the perfect gentlemanly ending to a surprisingly great blind date in Florence.