I am a woman of simple tastes. I don’t need fancy bags or designer shoes and I’m even satisfied with not dining at the restaurants of famous chefs. It doesn’t mean that I don’t think it would be nice to have these things, it just means that I can live without them.
Maybe one of the things I love about Italy is the abundance of simple things that can bring joy to any given day. From the spectacular countryside lined with those tall, spindly cypress trees to a field of red poppies or sunflowers gently swaying in the breeze. And there’s the chiming of endless church bells, glorious, even if it is one in the morning and you’re trying to fall asleep. I could go on and on, but what I love most of all is the Italians’ love of food and the importance it plays in their lives.
Italian food is above all simple and straightforward. For the most part, there is no pretension in the food that you are served. A dish doesn’t need ten different ingredients to make it special. A chicken with perfectly roasted potatoes and a cortorno (side) of sauteed spinach couldn’t be a more perfect meal. Each element of the dish is full of flavor and just the right amount. When food tastes this good, you don’t need an abundance of it.
Which leads me to what I would love to eat every morning, preferably in Italy. Every bar in every town has a little something that you can nibble on with your morning caffe. Some serve delectable pastries, others offer savory bites on rolls and almost all offer cornetti-the Italian version of croissants. As much as I love anything sweet in the morning, when I’m in Italy I’m inevitably drawn to the mini panini filled with salami or prosciutto crudo or cotto.
On our last trip there was one special bar that we stopped in most mornings as we left town for our adventure for the day. It was here that I found my new favorite-a cornetto with salami and mascarpone cheese. I’ve been dreaming of this since our return at the end of May. Yesterday I visited my favorite San Diego piece of Italy-Pappalecco and took a cornetto to go. Back in my kitchen I recreated the object of my affection. It was perfect. All that was missing was the Italian countryside, and those lovely Italians.
2 locations in San Diego:
1602 State Street
3650 5th Avenue
Stop by this wonderful bar if you happen to be in San Diego, located in Little Italy and in the Hillcrest neighborhood. If you’re not in San Diego, be sure to visit their website and their blog, where I’m a contributor a few times a month.