Whenever I talked to my family and friends about studying Rome, the first thing they would say was: “Oh, the food is amazing!” And they were definitely right!
The Italians are artists in the kitchen. I have never been disappointed by the food in Rome, and I don’t expect that to change! Fresh food and ingredients are very important here. The produce is fresh from the market and they would shudder at the thought of adding preservatives. Most places prepare their food on the spot, and “to go” food is not popular because by the time you eat it, it’s no longer fresh!
The most popular places to grab a bite to eat are the snack bars and pizzerias. A snack bar is not your typical bar. Instead of drinks, french fries and a football game on TV, snack bars offer espressos, cappuccinos, fresh orange juice, sandwiches and cornettos. Cornettos are an amazing breakfast snack, and have become my favorite. There are many different kinds of cornettos- sweet, salty, chocolate, honey, and the list goes on. They are very similar to a croissant, but a little smaller and not as flaky and so delicious. At the snack bars, there are usually no chairs or bar stools, so you have to stand and eat, so they’re a great place to stop on the way to school or for a quick lunch.
Pizzas here are very different than the familiar American staple (in a good way!) The slices are usually cut into rectangles, not triangles, with a thicker base than what we’re used to. You’ll get two slices, place them with the toppings sides together, and eat it like a sandwich. The many toppings include: zucchini, prosciutto, cheese (of course), potato, spinach, tomatoes (and, again, the list goes on!)
A few nights I ventured into some cute little restaurants for dinner to get a plate of delicious pasta and I’m pretty sure the pasta has been homemade every time. The Italians also give you plenty of food for your money. Last night, I got a heaped plate of linguini pesto for six euros! It was to die for, and worth every penny.
My friends and I have been taking huge advantage of our kitchen space (as everybody must on a student budget) by cooking for ourselves some nights of the week. I’ve been making a few trips to the supermarket a few times a week to get ingredients. The supermarkets are filled with lots of fresh produce, and even fresh pasta to take home and cook. There’s a large selection of raw meats, cheeses, and breads- everything you need to make a delicious home-cooked meal. Some nights, my roommates and I arrange potlucks with our neighbors, so we all get to share our food and have a big meal! It’s really nice because we get to save some spending money and it’s relaxing to hang out after a long day of school.
I’ve said before how I’ve been doing a lot of exploring around Rome, and that includes exploring with food! Though I have visited some of the same restaurants more than once, I try to go into a few new places each week. Everyone cooks differently, and it’s really interesting to see the variety.
I almost forgot to mention the most delicious Italian food of them all: GELATO! For those of you who have never had gelato, it’s way better than regular ice cream. Here, gelato comes in many different flavors: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, pistachio, espresso, stracchitella (vanilla and chocolate chips), and so on. Gelato never has any artificial coloring, flavors, or preservatives, and it’s softer and creamier than the ice cream you might be used to. It is my true weakness. I can’t walk down a street in Rome without seeing a sign for gelato, so I give in to the impulse and have some most days.