A new country and a new culture obviously means new food and changing your eating habits. I remember the desperation at the beginning of my Erasmus year in Urbino when we didn't have a kettle in the flat. No kettle meant making tea became a bit of a misson. And a Brit not being able to have a cuppa tea is not a good look. It was just one of the many little things I had to get used to.
Even though I have a very sweet tooth my ultimate comfort food at home was chicken soup. Proper thick chicken soup with a couple of slices of white bread and a chunk of Cheddar cheese. Perfect for those dark winter nights. It was also at the beginning of my Erasmus year that I discovered that I was going to have to do without my beloved chicken soup. Every time I felt like making some soup - being the lazy student that I was - I had to put up with watery broth-like substances that more often than not contained varying types of pasta. I wasn't overly impressed. In a big international city like Milan British food isn't difficult to come by, but it comes at a price. The last time I saw a can of Heinz chicken soup it cost 2 euro, and I decided to leave it where it was on the shelf.
Photo by Wordridden
The idea of comfort food is something that you grow up with, maybe something your mum makes when you're feeling ill for example; but when you transplant yourself into a different culture, you might not necessarily have someone around you to suggest comforting food. For around the first year and a half after my arrival in Italy I lived in a house that had a very different concept of food to the one I grew up with. There wasn't much in the way of comfort food, or even anything remotely unhealthy - bar the occasional pugliese fried meal - but one thing I loved was pasta e fagioli, pasta and beans. Perfect stodgy winter food. With the cold and rainy weather we've been having recently I've been making it this week.
A delicious piece of stracchino cheese!
I've also discovered that some unusual food has crept into my 'comfort food' category during my time here. For example there's stracchino, a very soft cows' milk cheese. I'm not sure what's so comforting about cheese, but this is. With some nice fresh bread, or with some vegetables, it's brilliant. My ultimate comfort food however is lasagna. I never used to eat it that much before moving to Italy, it certainly wasn't anything that was ever cooked at home, but I can't get enough of it. Any other kind of pasta, even if it has all the ragù on it that I want, just doesn't come close. Stick a portion of lasagna in front of me and I instantly become a happier person.
I've written this post as the ladies of the Italian Roundtable have extended an invitation to bloggers in Italy to write about one of the topics they've covered during the past year to celebrate their first anniversary. Auguri ragazze!
This month the ladies are writing about invitations: