The way to a (wo)man’s heart is through her stomach, am I right?
And what better place to go look for it than in Italy!
A few months ago, I was invited to speak about blog things at TBDI in Rimini, and I decided to take the chance to explore a little bit of Rome, by following my nose!
With exactly 24 hours in what might be called the greatest city in the world, I opted to ignore tradition and try something new – explore the markets and go on a food tour with Walks of Italy.
Just las summer I joined in on a Walks of Italy food tour in Florence that I adored, and it really opened my eyes to a new way to travel, well, new for me at least. Food travel.
Personally I am a big believer in learning about a destination through food. Food can explain so much about a place, if you open your eyes, nose and mouth to it.
Food is also a way to understand locals, what makes a population tick if you please. From portion sizes, principal ingredients, meal hours and styles, for those perceptive enough of us, you can really learn a lot about a place through food.
Food tours also tend to drag you out of the most population tourist traps and into the abyss that is a “real” city, and Rome is no exception. With only 24 hours in town, the last thing in the world I wanted to deal with was heaps of idiot tour groups, lines and inflated entrance costs.
Give me some espresso, markets, more espresso and all the food I could ever want to eat and more and call me happy.
Rome, show me what you got!
Up early for the market, which let’s be honest here, being “early” in Italy doesn’t exactly mean “early” by our sense of the word, which was fine by me. With an empty tummy apart from an obligatory wake-up cappuccino (when in Rome HA! Sorry, can’t help myself) I set off to me the small group in Campo dei Fiori.
I was ready to eat!
I am not one of those bloggers who Instagrams nothing but recipes and expensive meals fit for 3 people all while wearing size 0 skinny jeans. I was raised to eat what’s in front of me, and that’s what I do when on the road, especially in Italy.
That means leggings and flow-y dresses on food tour days! No waistlines for this blogger!
I think one of the things I miss the most about living in Europe is cheap, daily market fresh fruits and veggies. I used to love going out and picking up what I would need a few times a week, becoming a “regular” at certain stands, chatting with the locals about this and that. Even going out and buying your bread DAILY.
I won’t go into it here, but let’s just say I could probably have bought my own vintage mint green Vespa by now with the amount of money I am dropping on fresh fruits and veggies here in New Zealand. Honestly, the price difference is SHOCKING.
I am not exaggerating – I spent over $30 yesterday to buy ingredients for guacamole. WTF?!
Something else I love about these kinds of markets is that the food really is sold to season. If it’s not artichoke season, you don’t see artichokes.
Maybe I’m turning into a hippy or a hipster (which is it?) but I really love the farm-to-table trend and *actually* getting as close as possible to the origins of your food. America, we need to step on board with this.
Picking up a tomato or an onion and still seeing the dirt on it makes me secretly happy. It’s almost ruined me in a weird way because whenever I go home to the prepackaged, sterilized American grocery stores, all the food looks plastic and flavorless.
And don’t even get me started on the fungi.
Does anyone feel the same way or is it just me that prefers dirty veggies?
It’s hard to chose a favorite memory from olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting to trying all the cured meats and stinky cheeses….
Nope, can’t pick a favorite.
Again, cured meat might be one of the staples I miss the most outside southern Europe. Who knew I would grow up loving this salty, kinda gross-looking and smelling dish?
After trying and tasting so many local snacks, staples and signature dishes, who would have thought there would be room for lunch?
But oh no, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make my own pizza. If you are going to make your own pizza, there is only one place to do it, and that’s Rome.
After a few failed attempts to toss the dough as high as possible, I passed it on to the experts and picked out my ingredients. There’s no such thing as too much cheese on pizza, right?
Looking back on this trip, I am so happy I decided to skip the hustle and bustle of Rome’s main tourist attractions and instead explore the back streets like a local and get a completely different feel for such a magnificent place.
The markets, restaurants, pizzerias, cafes, butchers and gelato shops in Rome all deserve attention. If you want to see a different side of a famous place and get to travel using your other senses, why not try something like a food tour.
And after all, who doesn’t love to eat? Especially in Italy!
Have you ever been to Rome? Would you like to go on a food tour in Italy?
Many thanks to Walks of Italy for hosting me in Rome. Like always I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own, like you could expect anything less from me!