Our Italian Food Passion - Ahulan

Our Italian Food Passion


I’ve traveled Italy in a camper van with family and friends for months. I’ve been throughout Italy from Liguria to Naples and want to try all the iconic foods. I enjoyed the areas I visited for their beauty, atmosphere, and cuisine, which is part of Italian culture. Here are some of my favorite meals.

Italian cuisine, Seasonal Food
I visited Mesola, a tiny hamlet in Northern Italy, for the Estense Castle’s asparagus festival in April with Italian friends. A “sagra” is a culinary festival featuring ingredient-based dishes and many vendors offering local, in-season, fresh vegetables. It had asparagus, a giant tent, and long communal tables where we could taste every asparagus dish.


Trying ‘budino asparago’ soufflé and asparagus gnocchi was more excellent than I expected. I brought a huge bunch of asparagus to Ferrara, my base, for a good price. It was locally farmed and fresh, which was good because I had to eat asparagus every meal for a week.

Local fruit is Italians’ favorite, and it generally is. They like their food cultivated in Italy and around them. Two weeks ago, a major Italian daily headlined the ‘shocking’ news that Chinese tomatoes were being marketed as Italian ones and were unhealthy! Since tomatoes are a cornerstone in so many Italian cuisines that are loved globally, Italians should treat them seriously.


Local food picked in season loses less nutrients and stays fresher due to less transit. It may taste better, be healthier, and be better for the environment.

Italian chocolate
San Remo, the Dolphin and Whale Volunteer Research Project’s base, serves seafood specialties such fish lasagne cooked with fresh fish from the Ligurian Sea. One additional Italian treat for your well-deserved vacation is the photo-friendly ‘salame dolce’, a sweet chocolate log that looks like a salame.

Bella Good food comes from Naples
Naples is known as the birthplace of fine cuisine, and Italians everywhere believe their city or area produces the greatest food. On a pre-COVID visit to Naples, I was told that Southern Italian dinners sometimes continue for hours, and my seven-hour Easter lunch with an Italian family did.

Green chicory loaded with cheese, cappellaci di zucca (pumpkin pasta), pollo ripieno (chicken stuffed with herbs and vegetables), and smoky grilled artichoke were my favorites. All the flavors were Italian and unlike the British Sunday roast.

Italian pasta Italian Toast: Salute!
I felt woozy after eating, maybe due to the cocktails that followed each dish, from the harsh aperitif to the sweet liqueurs at the finish. These usually go with desserts like Tiramisu, a delicious mix of coffee liqueur, chocolate, and Ladyfingers. The delicious Lemoncello, with an alcoholic edge, is a favorite homemade liqueur.

Many households manufacture their own Prosecco in tiny co-operatives of town neighbors with rural family holdings. My friend’s family proudly made sparkling wine. Opened bottles were blended into Hugo cocktails with elderflower and mint and Bellinis with peach puree after dinner.

I was served Chinotto, a dark-colored drink that tasted like coke but was prepared with orange tree leaves and had a bittersweet flavor.

The Italian pizza Italian street food and pizza
You’ll always want to nibble in Italy due of its tantalizing fragrances. Each town offers exquisite sweet and savory specialties. Try cecina, a chickpea and olive oil flatbread in San Remo, and handmade Italian ice cream anywhere. Stracciatella, a classic vanilla ice cream and dark chocolate sliver combination originated in Northern Italy in the early 60s, never disappoints.

Walking through Neapolitan neighborhoods, I couldn’t resist trying some of the wonderful Italian “street food.” Zeppole, a cream-filled choux pastry, “Pasta Frolla” (savoury or sweet triangle-shaped crispy pastry), and “Taralli” (flavored breadstick circles) were available. There are several specialty pastries and breads in Italy that are interesting only for their names. Naples has numerous street booths selling fresh fruit like ‘Cornicelli’, little red horn-shaped chilli peppers that symbolize good luck.

Despite eating enticing delights, I went to Naples’ oldest pizza, Antica pizza Port’Alba, founded in 1830. I picked the basic pizza Margherita, named after Queen Margherita of Savoy and invented in Naples. Classic Italian tomatoes and local mozzarella cheese are always wonderful.

Budget Life
Italian cuisine is cheap for budget travelers. Italian ‘ragazzi’—teenagers to mid-30s—gather to eat modest two- or three-ingredient spaghetti with pals. Olive oil and smashed garlic pasta and spaghetti with grated Parmesan cheese, oil, and nutmeg are inexpensive yet tasty. This healthy, tasty lunch may be made easily at a hostel or on a boat while volunteering in Italy.

Italian seafood pasta Perfect Pasta and Rice Pairings Pasta pairs well with any meat or seafood. I loved Florentine ‘wild boar pasta’ and seafood pastas on my Adriatic coast vacation. Italians adore spaghetti alle vongole (mussels), and I liked having it in a Puglia trabocco (little pier eateries constructed from fishing huts).

The great variety of pasta shapes and flavors in Italy might be confounding for the average tourist. The names of nearly thirty former forms include orecchiette (small ears) and cappelletti (little hats). Beware, certain sauces only work with particular shapes. You undoubtedly know Bologna never serves Spaghetti Bolognese. Only flat tagliatelle should be served with bolognese sauce (ragu). Italians seldom violate spaghetti sauce guidelines.

Another delicious dish is Italian risotto, which is patiently stirred with meats, seafood, or vegetables by Italians and foodies. Ferrara pumpkin risotto is a ‘must try’. Comfort food that tastes great and is healthful.

Italian risotto. Delicious memories
As a youngster, I heard about Venice’s ‘Fegato alla Veneziana’ (liver in wine and onion sauce), which helped my parents get together. I remember mandolin music, sunshine on turquoise canal water, and my parents ordering extra helpings because the meal was so good, but that was another story.

Give succumb to your Italian cuisine obsession. Create food tales to support conservation. Enjoy delicious food and living well while you volunteer in Italy. Good appetite!

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