Anne's Blog

Eating Out in Italy: Don’t Be Embarrassed to Ask…

Date: March 1, 2019 - categories: , , , - Comments Off on Eating Out in Italy: Don’t Be Embarrassed to Ask…

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Nowadays, if you’re traveling in Italy, don’t be embarrassed to ask to take home your leftovers. Until quite recently, in fact, most Italians would never ask.
I think for a couple of reasons: very little use of the microwave in Italy and most Italians would not reheat various dishes in any case. Pasta for one: it would no longer be al dente but leaning towards the mushy.
For many in Italy (and especially in the past), asking to take home your leftovers might give the impression you don’t wish to cook for your own family or – worse! – you are in economical need. In asking to take away leftovers, you’d be presenting a  “brutta figura.”
I’d always ask anyways, explaining to the server that I did not wish to waste – and was American – while Pino looked on a bit embarassed……
I remember years ago when an erudite Assisi gentleman on a trip to the USA wished to ask for his leftovers, admiring the American propensity to “not waste.” But he did not ask. Reason? “I couldn’t remember if I should say ‘doggy bag’ or ‘baggy dog’….”  Brutta figura.
But times have changed. Recently I saw an Italian news special about the “Avanza!”  initiative promoting the proverbial “doggy bag” launched by a consortium of forty restaurants in the city of Modena in Emilia Romagna. “Avanza” means “left over” but the word can also mean ” moving ahead” or  “going forward.”
The students of the liceo artistico were asked to create the illustration for the bags and food boxes now offered to customers in Modena area restaurants with this slogan inscribed on food boxes and food bags: “AVANZA Riduci, Rigusta, Riutilizza”  (“leftover” – or “move head” – “reduce, re-taste, re-use”)
You can see the result here in this video.
Very soon here in Italy taking home your leftovers in a conscientious effort to reduce waste and  appreciate good cooking through re-using it will be the sign of “BELLA 
figura.”
But some culinary highlights of the Mediterranean diet will simply never merit an Avanza bag or box.
I can’t  imagine eating these dishes below anywhere but right THERE.
For example…..
…..Ciro’s pasta with mussels near Jesi (in the Marches region)
 …that antipasto goodness at our favorite Naples restaurant

…not to mention their pizza

…that osso buco  with chick peas at a favorite Arezzo spot

….grilled coregone, the whitefish of Lake Bolsena
… and those homemade pappardelle with wild boar sauce in Sarnano (in the Marches) ….
….the seafood  couscous and seafood pasta of Castelluzzo (Sicily)
…..pane ca’ meusa (sandwiches with calf spleen) – a treat whever we are visiting Pino’s Sicily family- has to be eaten hot and on the spot
..that memorable pork shank with roast potatoes of Talla (Tuscany)
…and of course, those granite of a Sicily summer  – like this one of limone
…and who would ever want to heat up that pasta al cacio pepe we so enjoyed in the tiny Emilia Romagna town of Terranova Bracciolini (Tuscany)…?
– tortelli alla zucca (giant tortellini stuffed with winter squash) in Modena would never end up in an Avanza  box (too good!):
 – that pasta with freshly-shaved black truffle (at our favorite spot in Valtopina, near Foligno) cannot go into an Avanza box, logicamente….
 – and that cuttlefish on the spit of our August Pescia Romana (Latium) visit just had to be savored there right near the beach, sizzling off the grill
….in Verona, that pasta with four sauces we had could never be carried home
….and in Valtopina, those tasty wild mushrooms just cannot be saved for domani
….and the seafood goodness of Ristorante Verde on the island of Ventotene just has to be eaten right there
….and on the island of Elba, seafood goodness in an “Avanza’” box would be improbable as Pino’s anchovies were finished right there
– and on our way to Elba, those “black spagehetti” (due to the cuttlefish ink) with seafood just did not merit a “doggy bag”
 – and so many of the “Peppa culinary creations” are simply best enjoyed right with her.
No Avanza boxes or bags needed.
Click here for more on good eating near Jesi
Read about a favorite Naples restaurant
Read about good eating in Arezzo
Click here to see those pappardelle al cinghiale (and not only!) at Sarnano (Marches)
Read about pane ca meusa and other Sicilian specialties
See that pork shank and other Talla culinary wonders
Click here for Sicilian granita news
Read about Terranova Bracciolini and cacio pepe
Click here for a note on Modena – and those tortelli!
Read about black truffles – and wild mushrooms – in Valtopina
Click here to read about pasta with four sauces – and Monet!-  in magical Verona
Read about Ristorante Verde on the bellissimo island of Ventotene
Click here to read about good eating on the island of Elba
Read about a gem of a restaurant in Piombino,  Tuscan port city
Click here to see why Peppa’s cooking can never make an Avanza bag

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Agenzia Viaggi Stoppini in Assisi handles all technical support for my guided visits (bus transportation, organization of meals, etc)