Tales of the Tourist Trap
As I mentioned earlier, my trip to Taormina this summer was a slightly different experience of Italy than I am normally used to for two reasons that I feel had a major impact on my foodie judgments. For one, I have no family in Taormina, in all of Southern Italy, to be exact. I had never gone any further than Positano before this summer. And secondly, my time there was only limited to 11 nights…in my opinion, definitely not enough time to fully appreciate any land’s culture or cuisine to its fullest.
Without my family to chauffeur me around town, nor the budget to rent my own car (or the guts to attempt the windy roads of the Sicilian coast), my transportation options were limited solely to my own two sturdy piedi. Side-note: with daily 45 minute hikes to and from the beach, up and down hills and in sweltering heat, plus an odd and obscene desire to torture myself further with morning up-hill jogs, let’s just say my sturdy piedi were not so sturdy come Day 3. For this reason, our choices for dining spots were restricted to places along the tourist strip, or, in the case of lunch, the three lidos by the beach we frequented daily.
Needless to say, I learned a different side of both Italy and travel this summer. Some of my discoveries?…
….I discovered that major tourist towns boast expensive food that don’t rival the cheaper version found in the little pizzerias of the smaller towns
…that eggplants in Sicily truly are a form of divinity
….that when you get take away pizza that you wait 35 minutes for (when you’re the sole customer) does not necessarily mean it’s baked fresh, it might just mean it takes that long for the creepy old man to defrost the store-box bought version
….that Sicily is not actually known for its pizza…(this tip comes from the guys we met from Catania…half way through our trip…could of used this advice earlier)…but Villa Zuccaro might have you believing that they are…
….a busy restaurant on the main strip is no indication of how good the food actually is
….that sometimes, Italian cuisine isn’t as perfect as I so advocate it to be…BUT
….that no one can perfect the simple panini the way the Italians can…from the dingy airport food stands to the beach lidos…no matter where you are they are heavenly
….that there’s a thing called ricotta salata…who knew? A hard and salty version of ricotta that does wonders to any dish it touches
….that after sweating your body weight out during a day-time photo shoot through the town, nothing can cool you down quite like a refreshing salad from Cafe Solaris
….that Italians truly believe North Americans love french fries enough to actually put them on their pizza?
….that when the nonni who run the food carts say they’re throwing in some extra cherry tomatoes for you…it means you’re paying for them
….that lunch is my new favourite meal of the day…and for the most part was usually our most successful
….that there’s no other breakfast of champions quite like brioche con gelato
….pistachios are the nuts of the gods
….daily fruit carts should be mandatory everywhere
….granita really is the best in Sicily…they’re not just bragging.
….that whoever coined the catch phrase K.I.S.S. is actually a genius…my most memorable meals were indeed the most simple ones…
….that despite the overall tone this post might indicate, the meals I enjoyed in Taormina could never be replicated here, that I still am and always be incredulously bias towards both Italian food and culture in general (thanks for this one Daddio;))
So enough of my travel tips that are probably all old news to those much more experienced Euro-travelers….kudos to those who have taken the plunge with no familiar friend to hold your hand and guide you through the cobble stone streets. Enjoy my pics of the delicious, the delectable and the disagreeable…they will do much more justice than my words. Next time I plan a trip to a foreign land, I promise to fight my lazy mind and do much more appropriate research….