There were four of us girls, fresh off the plane from America, and hungry for our first Italian pizza.
We were giddy with our newfound freedom in a foreign city. For me, being able to walk 5 minutes down the street to a pizzeria was a welcome change from driving 30 minutes to anywhere.
“Chiuso,” the sign read. Closed. At 6:00pm? It felt like dinnertime to us…and the restaurant was not even open?
At 7:30 p.m. we were there, but the Italians weren’t. Maybe this was a terrible restaurant? We were too hungry to care.
We had already had mouthfuls of pizza by time the Italians started to trickle in well after 8:30 p.m., filling every empty chair.
One by one each table got something that looked almost like a pizza without toppings…before their pizza. What is it that the Italians know that we don’t? What is it, and how do we get it? We were curious.
The only problem is, amongst the four of us American girls, our combined Italian consisted of “ciao” and “grazie.”
…But desire is a universal language. The bravest of us flagged down the waiter and pointed to the strange, thin bread-like mystery food.
“Farinata,” he said, asking us if we wanted some. Of course we did. If all the Italians were eating it, we wanted to too.
Next thing I knew we were eating this salty, slightly crispy on the outside farinata. It was so satisfying. It’s saltiness reminded me of popcorn.
Every time after that, we arrived at the restaurant no earlier than 8 p.m., and you can bet we learned how to order farinata in Italian.
And that is how my cooking addiction began. While studying abroad in Italy, I fell in love with so many dishes (how did I ever think Olive Garden was good?). I wanted to recreate all of this delicious food for my family and friends, and show them what Italian food really is.
Have you ever had farinata? If not, try Bear’s farinata recipe. It’s simple, but so delicious! (Best enjoyed hot!)
Have you ever studied abroad before? If so, where did you study abroad, and did you discover a favorite new food? Let us know in the comments!