Sicily (October 2022)
Cannoli’s, granita, fresh homemade pasta, Sicilian style pizza and of course more pasta and seafood are some of the foods I think of during my trip to Sicily and Puglia.
Since the onset of COVID this was the first time I traveled outside of the United States. My husband and I went on two spectacular cycling trips to these two regions.
What stands out to me about traveling internationally is the hospitality and curiosity with the Italian people. They make food as it is supposed to be, without any adjustments, substitutions, or mock food to replace what they are known for.
During my several weeks away, I really observed how the people of Italy communicate, eat and what their conversations were about. On our cycling trips we were privileged to meet with local people, dine at local people’s homes and restaurants.
Their body language and ideas about food were very different from what I observe in the United States.
They are proud for you to eat what they make and for many these are family recipes that have been passed down for many generations. If someone on our group asked for “light” cheese or “sauce on the side”, they would look perplexed and tell our group that they do not understand. Our guides would translate to them, and these clearly were not statements that they would hear on a daily, let alone regular basis.
I asked our guides who were Sicilian and the local guides in Puglia how people feel about their bodies? This is a question I always like to ask when traveling abroad. Especially since I was rusty traveling, I thought maybe like how mental health and body image challenges have increased in the US these last two years perhaps it has in Italy too?
The answers I received were the same in both. People do not think twice, as they want to socialize with family, friends, bond over food and of course people have days they are not comfortable in their body, but it does not ruin or disrupt their days, weeks, or plans.
As I heard these responses over my vacation, my initial thought was “I wish I could bottle these responses and bring them back to America”. It was so refreshing to hear the responses I heard, how people in Italy enjoy and appreciate the simple things in life and their values are certainly focused on relationships and happiness.
I thought this would be great to share as it really warmed my heart to see that establishing food freedom, flexibility and happiness is possible and it’s not a dream to achieve.