29. Mangia!

Of course, all Americans are familiar with Italian food, to the point where we consider things like pizza part of our own native cuisine. But Italians simply wouldn’t tolerate Italian food in the way we think of and eat it. Their food, in even the humblest trattoria or beach-side stand, is fresh, local, seasonal, particular to the location, and virtually garlic-free. Not because a New York Times food columnist told them to, but because they have always done it that way, and why would you not?

I have been struck by the wonderful meals our program has provided us, usually cooked by Tonio’s sister-in-law or her young-adult son and daughters. We would pay a high price for them in a Batali Manhattan restaurant (if we still patronized them) but here, they are treated like just a regular, weekday meal. Here are some examples:

Fried zucchini flowers. A typical spread at dinner:

Seafood risotto with octopus salad:

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