Last week was Spring break for the Temple Rome program. This meant most students left Rome to travel near and far and get a taste of new places, new cultures, and, for me at least, new foods! While the trip was amazing (I got to visit Edinburgh, Paris, and Barcelona), by the end of it I was definitely ready to return to Rome. Being away from the city I have lived in for the past 2 months made me realize how much I have grown accustomed to Roman culture. While life in Rome is similar to how it is in the other European cities I visited, especially Barcelona, there are subtle differences and inconsistencies between them. I especially noticed this when it came to the dining cultures. My week away has given me a new appreciation for several dining qualities in my Rome home.
Things I appreciate about Rome’s food culture:
- In Rome, you can sit in a restaurant as long as you want to after eating without being pressured to leave or given any sort of attitude (this is certainly not true in America and I found it is not true in other parts of Europe either).
- You can sit in a restaurant or café even if not everyone in your group is ordering something (In Paris we were often told we could not stay if not everyone got something).
- Fresh fruit and vegetables are easily accessible and incredibly affordable (I cannot describe how much I wanted an apple after 4 days of nothing but bread!).
- The FREE aperitivi buffets! (They are perfect for a cheap, light, and quick meal).
- The generally accepting attitude of Romans toward vegetarianism and the ability for one to find vegetarian choices in restaurants (this is nearly impossible in Paris).
- The freshness of food in restaurants, regardless of the price of the food (sadly, I paid for meals that were made up of frozen vegetables more than once on my trip).
- How easy it is to find a pasticceria (bakery) in any part of Rome that offers traditional Italian baked goods (we had to hunt all over Paris to find a place with macaroons!).
- The large quantity of outdoor food markets everywhere!
- The best gelato for the cheapest price making Rome the place to find the best value for gelato anywhere.
- A sense that Romans have a true pride in the food of their city, and the importance they place on food in their everyday lives that I did not see in the other cities I visited.
Do not get me wrong, I had several great dining experiences over my spring break. But I found myself missing these characteristics of Roman dining and it has felt good to get back to them now that break is over.