Buonissimo Cucina Posted on January 26th, 2011 by

The 2011 Italy Tour is “exceeding expectations,” according to tour participants.

One specific area where there is universal agreement of surpassing expectations is cucina Italiana (Italian cuisine).

But that’s no surprise as it is part of the culture.

“Eating and drinking is a major pleasure,” explains guide and Venice native Elisabetta. She and Rome native and co-guide Mauro agree. Both take pride in sharing some of their culture’s cooking secrets, such as cooking pasta “al dente” – not too long so it becomes mushy – and eating it without cutting it up.

So what are some favorite food experiences?

Three Gustavus students, Margeaux (Demmer) Streiff, Heather Pallas, and Amber Kirk, eat gelatto in Rome. (Photo by Stacia Vogel)

1. Gelatto, Italian ice cream that is found in frequent shops and cafes in large and small cities throughout Italy. Gelaterias are probably more frequent in Italy than Starbucks, Caribou Coffee, and Dairy Queen combined in Minnesota.

In Rome there was a gelateria across the street from the hotel, another around the corner from the hotel, and a student-favorite a few blocks away near the Colosseum called Giolitti’s. Giolitti’s had more than 50 flavors from which to choose.

Choir member Chris Gough ’12 managed to eat the following gelatto flavors during the first week of the tour and he was looking forward to more taste tests.

(Luckily you can try two flavors per cone or dish).

  • stracciatella (chocolate chip)
  • pistacchio (pistachio)
  • fragola (strawberry)
  • arancia (orange)
  • noccioca (hazelnut)
  • limone and limone di Sorrento (lemon and lemon of Sorrento)
  • ciocolatte fondente (dark chocolate)
  • ciocolatte bianco (white chocolate)
  • cannella (cinnamon)
  • crema di vaniglia (vanilla  cream)
  • cioccolatto fondente all arancia (dark chocolate orange)
  • limoncello (lemoncello)
  • Oreo (Oreo)
  • frutti di bosco (mixed fruit)
  • and he still said: “E Altro Ancora” (and more to come)!

2. Pasta and pizza in all sorts of varieties. For pasta there was spaghetti, penne, ravioli, lasagne, gnocchi, tortellini . . . and each pasta dish often came with red or white sauce combined with  meat and/or vegetables, cheeses, truffles, etc. For pizza there were as many varieties as gelatto or pasta. And, each city had its own claim to “the best pizza in Italy.” Some cities sold pizza by the slice but others sold it by weight and called it “pizza by the meter.”

Elegantly decorated cappuccino in Italy. (Photo by Stacia Vogel)

3. Cappuccino was another mainstay in the culinary experience. Sometimes there was a lovely decoration created in the foam. Decorated or not, it was always delicious and never bitter. In Florence, where the weather was cool (40 degrees), hot chocolate had to be tried. It was rich and creamy beyond anything in the U.S.A. as it was literally made by heating chocolate!

The list of excellent food in Italy may be endless, but here’s a few more worth noting:

-orange juice made from freshly squeezed Sorrento oranges
-olive oil
-balsamic vinegar
-fresh grilled vegetables (in olive oil)

Mmmmmmm. If you like to eat good food, Italy is a good place to be. Listen to choir member Abby Williams ’11 and her glowing video commentary taped in Assisi:

P.S. Some recent on-your-own-meals were an adventure — some were shocked when the fish they ordered had eyes and scales intact! Just ask Emma Oseland ’12!!!


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