“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.”
- Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
There are so many ways to be exposed to different cultures, and traveling is definitely one of them.
And because we are what we eat, as the famous food writer Brillat-Savarin states above, I am a strong believer that in order to fully immerse yourself in another culture, it is crucial to eat what the locals eat when you’re traveling.
So obviously, we took the task of exploring Italian food very seriously when visiting Italy.
What better way to show respect to Italy than by savoring its cuisine with relish and fervor?
Juan and I had a rule that we adheredly strictly by – for every single day we were in Italy, we would try something new.
Whether it be an antipasto that we’d never heard of before, a main course that was unique to the city we were in, or simply an out-of-this-world gelato flavor (trust me, there were endless gelato tastes to try!) – we had to be open to new tastes and ingredients.
On our first evening in Rome, we found our way to the happening Trastevere neighborhood, which was pumping with Saturday night energy and bustling with both tourists and locals alike. Once settled at the humble but busy Cajo e Gajo trattoria, we prompted asked for the menu and soon after, decided to take the plunge and try fried crispy artichokes. Let’s say that it was interesting, but I’m not sure I’d order it again – unless I’m in the mood for super fried foods.
The second day, we heeded Rachel’s advice to go to Testaccio for local Roman fare; and after wandering the almost deserted streets (it was a Sunday night in August, the month when Romans take their holidays), we stumbled across one of the few open restaurants – Osteria degli Amici – and between sips of red Tuscany-produced Chianti wine, we feasted on cold octopus salad and a tender oxtail stew (which for me was probably one of the best dishes of Roman cuisine).
I don’t suppose you want to know everything I ate in Italy, but you get the gist.
Over the next few days; while we fed on the obligatory pizza and pasta, we did also try out dishes such as Saltimbocca alla Romana, cold digestive limoncello, hazelnut-flavored gelato, lemon slush, tiramisu, cheese-smothered fries and plenty of Nutella-topped everything.
One of the things I did notice in the various restaurants and bars we’d dine at, is that at every single meal they would get you started with a breadbasket (often included in your bill whether you eat the bread or not). Depending on the place you’re at, the basket could come with just a few simple bread rolls, or it could be stuffed with bread rolls, wheat buns, crackers, as well as a variety of breadsticks.
The latter was what interested me most – I like the crunchy bite of a breadstick that has been dipped into whatever dipping sauce available.
I also like the fact that breadsticks are long and elegant (unlike their short and fat bun cousins). Mostly, I loved that breadsticks could be flavored with cheese, herbs, sesame seeds or so many other different toppings.
When we finally got back to Buenos Aires last week, a combination of jet lag and post-trip inspiration left me wide-eyed and unable to sleep in early Saturay morning.
By the heat of the softly whirring oven, I found myself mixing almond meal, tapioca flour, baking powder, salt, olive oil and water together. Once I got a homogeneous dough, which I divided into 18 equal portions. I greased my hands and kitchen counter and got about rolling each portion of dough into sticks, sprinkled them with sesame seeds and later popped them into the oven for baking.
I wasn’t sure how grain-free breadsticks would taste like, but I’m completely won over by these!
They’re crunchy and so wonderfully full of flavor – you wouldn’t even know they’re grain-free!
I’ll recommend you to nibble on these breadsticks to satisfy your hungry growling stomach as you wait for your main course to cook, or simply eat them as a snack between hours of Suits like Juan and I did.