Not the Italy Your Grandma Told You About

10 Dec

So for months now i’ve been sharing with you all my stories about the amazing italian cuisine, I talked about the mindset that most Italians have towards cooking homemade foods, I’ve talked about the simplicity and freshness of available ingredients, and I have shown you the beautiful plates and delicious dishes I have had the pleasure of trying…but what I have failed to tell you is that there is another side of Italy. So forget all that you have been told, because gone are the small item specific markets that Italians frequent daily for fish, bread, cheese, and and meat and in it’s place are supermarkets no different then those that we have in America. Contrary to what you may believe woman in housecoats with aprons on aren’t slaving away in the kitchen making pasta by hand, instead they are out earning a living instead. So for those of you that have a certain vision of Italy in your head, especially the italian Americans who have heard great stories about Italy or remember as it was thirty year ago, well brace yourself, because I am going to show you the other side of Italy, the side more focused on convenience and meeting the wants and needs of the more modernized thinking, Italian customer.

Welcome to Coop, one of Italy’s most famous and biggest supermarkets, in fact I would be willing to be the supermarket chain here even rivals the size of any American supermarket. In this store you can find a meat department, a fish department, the bakery section, produce, a frozen food section, and tons and tons of snack aisles. You’ll also find customers with overstuffed grocery carriages stocked with a week worth of food, just because the Italians  care about fresh food doesn’t mean they have more time to go shopping, let’s get real they’re just being practical, who want’s to hit a grocery store after a long day at work and who has the time to?

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The first thing I noticed in the grocery store which even I found a bit shocking was the amount of jared sauces available, sure they may have less preservatives compared to those sold in the U.S. but still who would have thought one would be able to find jared sauce in Italy. And by the share quantity and variety available it looks like they are quite in demand. I guess making homemade fresh tomato sauce from scratch is also a thing of the past for many.

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Another fascinating thing is the elaborate frozen food section stocked with many varieties of prepared frozen meals.

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Frozen veggies and a very large selection of french fries including many different varieties are also popular here.

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There’s even frozen pizza

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Check out the Pizza with french fries on top

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Now I know you didn’t think the Italian went out to the top Geleterie every night either, no instead they settle for store brand gelato to satisfy their cravings!

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So are you surprised yet, no…well what if I told there’s also quite a big prepared food section, that’s right there are some Italians that don’t even cook for themselves. Come on you have to admit your a bit surprised now, after all aren’t all Italians supposed to be amazing chefs, isn’t it a trait that is genetically programmed into them when their young…sorry but that would be just a stereotype

Ready to bake pizza anyone?

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Or you can choose and select hot foods ready to be eaten

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Sushi anyone?

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There’s also a plethora of ethnic products, because after all who doesn’t love a good stir fry or fajita night

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Oh yeah and Italian like to snack quite a bit too, and contrary to popular belief it’s not on cheese, bread, and cured meats…more like potato chips, cheese puffs, and sugary cereal

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Now despite the modernization of many things in Italy and the vast amount of Americans and the American influence on the country the one thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that take out food is an absolute foreign concept here. One will most definitely be looked and probably talked about if they ask for a meal to go or for a box for left overs.

So when I saw a pizza delivery vespa, I was even a bit shocked!

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So just like any other city around the world you can find the famous fast food joint, McDonalds. Think it’s just a tourist trap for naive tourist that don’t know where to eat, well you’d be wrong, there are several McDonalds located in the more residential areas of Florence which are usually quite popular amongst the locals!

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Even more shocking is the Subway chains which can also be found around the city center, who would have thought that the Italians living in the panini capital of the world sometimes crave a sub.

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So just like any country Italy has had to abandon some age old traditions to be able to adapt to modern times. Sure it may be a bit shocking or even a little sad that Italy, a country with such a rich reputation for having high quality food has drastically changed to incorporate more fast and convenient food options for residents. My hope with this post was to open your eyes, help you realize that Italy has made great strides to adjust to a modernized world. So those of you looking for great food and a delicious meal well I can assure you that you can still probably find it here in Italy, but for those of you who have a stereotypical image of the food here in Italy, the way it’s perceived in the movies, or from what your grandparents told you based on when they lived here 50 years ago, well I hate to tell you but you’d be living in the past, it’s time to get with the times, open you mind and accept things for what  they are.

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3 Responses to “Not the Italy Your Grandma Told You About”

  1. mapleandsaffron December 10, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

    It’s sad but so true…many Italian women don’t have time to cook anymore and they find it easier to buy pre-cooked food…but thank god in the small towns it’s not like that.
    I don’t know why people think it’s faster waiting for that pre-cooked food in the oven than cooking a better meal with the same amount of time!

    • La Cucina Di Kait December 11, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

      Yes it is quite true that the less modernized places and small towns are still very traditional when it comes to food which is nice, however as far the bigger cities it seems that women are making great strides to advance their careers which is great unfortunately it’s means they have less time to cook!

      • mapleandsaffron December 11, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

        …and to enjoy time with their kids and husbands too! Anyway, it’s also true what you said about spoiled 30-year-olds that have parents to do all the “adult” stuff for them, that’s completely true! I know a lot of people like that! But I guess it happens everywhere…

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