Eating Like an Italian

As a nation state, Italy has emerged only in 1871. Until then the country was politically divided into a large number of independant cities, provinces and islands. The currently available evidences point out to a dominant Etruscan, Greek and Roman cultural influence on today's Italians.
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Eating Like an Italian

Postby Falerna » 20 Apr 2011, 00:51

I have seen pictures of my mother's distant cousins in Calabria. They are all so thin! Does anyone know what a typical diet consists of for southern Italians? I hope that if I can eat like them, I can lose all this weight!
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Re: Eating Like an Italian

Postby liviomoreno » 20 Apr 2011, 07:50

"mediterranean diet"
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Re: Eating Like an Italian

Postby Italysearcher » 20 Apr 2011, 09:11

How old were the photos. Every day on TV we hear about how Italians are following their American counterparts and getting obese.
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Re: Eating Like an Italian

Postby Falerna » 20 Apr 2011, 15:43

The photos were from the 1990s. I know all about the meditteranean diet, and that is how I feed my family, but I want to know if Italians eat junk food like we do in between their meals. I really want to know what a day in the life of an Italian is like, or should I say, was like before they started eating like Americans!

I'm new to this site. Are there Italians who live in Italy on this site?
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Re: Eating Like an Italian

Postby PippoM » 21 Apr 2011, 07:52

Yes, I am Italian.
I live in Roma, but I'm from Campania.
I can tell you junk food is becoming a bad habit, above all for young people.
I see a lot of children, growing fatter and fatter because of food, TV and no sports.
Anyway, we are not at the same level as USA, but I don't know how we will be in 20 years...I only try to give my children bread, fruit or homemade sweeties when they are hungry in between meals, but when they grow teens I don't if I'll be able to control them!
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Re: Eating Like an Italian

Postby Italysearcher » 21 Apr 2011, 17:09

McDonalds, Burger King, are common in many of the larger centres.
Snack foods are very well marketed especially to parents focusing on how they contain MILK and cereal and not mentioning the sugar, flour and fat content.
In the past few years there has been an increase in the sale of potato chips, and corn chips and other snack foods. Hot dogs and hamburgers and french fries are considered snacks not meals.
It won't be long before we catch up to North America.
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Re: Eating Like an Italian

Postby montclaire » 21 Apr 2011, 22:05

Food in Southern Italy is mostly fresh and seasonal. If it's not fresh they don't eat it, and what they're eating is what's fresh.

Many foods are rich in iodine. Olive oil for one, and also I would imagine the many cured meats. I don't think sugar intake is very high, they cook more with peppers for flavor, traditionally.

Most meat would be pork (or wild boar) and goat or lamb. Lots of fresh cheese, lots of garlic, lots of lemon, lots of wine. Chestnut flour is pretty common in italy, and is gluten free. It may be hard to find in the US though.

So I guess eat fresh and don't be afraid to change your menu based on season. Olive oil on everything. Italians seem to eat all day, but they also spend time gathering ingredients (walking) and prepping food, and eating smaller portions than in the US. Stay away from the refined sugars and go easy on bread and pasta. They're an addition, not the whole meal.

Attitude may play an important role here as well, try to be content and happy in what you have, and make every meal sing with it's simplicity. Slow your pace when you eat, and you will eat less and also enjoy the experience more. Make it a love affair and not a pit stop.
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Re: Eating Like an Italian

Postby Falerna » 21 Apr 2011, 22:26

I think one of my problems is that my husband likes red meat (he'd eat it every day if he could) and my daughter doesn't like anything fresh. We are cutting down on the pasta, though. I was having it three days a week, now I'm down to twice a week, which is what we did when I was growing up.

I do try to eat seasonally as much as possible. I figured if I'm the one who does all the cooking, then my family's just gonna have to eat what I put on the table!

I think I'll start playing Italian music with our meals!
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Re: Eating Like an Italian

Postby Italysearcher » 22 Apr 2011, 10:51

I live in Italy and Monteclaire is absolutely correct about diet and eating habits for the mature Italians. We eat pasta every day but change the format and eat very little. 30-50 grams a serving. If you choose the pasta made with eggs it looks more on the plate. (buying smaller plates helps the diet too) Choose a recipe with lots of vegetables in the sauce or make a vegetable soup and add just 30 grams of pasta.
Fresh doesn't mean crude (uncooked). Most Italians I know won't eat raw vegetables, they like them boiled , drained, then lightly sautéd in oil and garlic and a little hot pepper. I can't believe I ate plained boiled vegetables for so many years when this way they taste so much better.
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Re: Eating Like an Italian

Postby Julo » 22 Apr 2011, 20:51

Southern Italians eat well but generally less than Americans. A big factor is movement, generally speaking americans have a much more sedentary life. In Southern Italy, people get out and enjoy life in the open air, favoured by the mostly nice weather year around.
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Re: Eating Like an Italian

Postby jennabet » 17 May 2011, 12:53

It depends on the time of year. Italians are all thinner in the summer time, like we in America used to be before we had air conditioning everywhere and adjusted our diets to accommodate the hot weather and thought sweating was good for us. Just think. If Americans were forced to adjust their diets every summer, winter weight gain would be lost and the pounds would not continue to pile on and on and on. In summer, Italians eat salad, fruit, vegetables, and pizza -- to stay out of their hot kitchens. And they like lamb roasted outside on a spit.
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Re: Eating Like an Italian

Postby marymary52 » 30 Apr 2014, 07:46

I agree Americans eat way too fast. We need to slow down and enjoy our food. Italians do more walking, we do more driving and sitting. plus we eat way too much food at one time,
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Re: Eating Like an Italian

Postby 113yearslater » 09 May 2014, 01:14

I'm endlessly grateful that my family managed to hold onto our healthy eating habits despite moving out of the nearby Italian enclave and into the suburbs. I still remember my mom telling me stories about how the local housewives used to think she was so silly and backwards for using olive oil and peeling potatoes instead of butter and using that horrible, disgusting boxed, dried mashed potato substitute. She said she bought a box of that junk once, tried it, and promptly threw it out because it was, in her words, "garbage." Shopping the perimeter of the supermarket wasn't some special health technique to her; it was just how you shopped. I still don't know how to cook boxed food. We stayed in our happy little universe of brasciole, artichokes, and wine, and I'm forever thankful.

And over the last few decades, I've gone from being thin but not that different from everyone around me to routinely the skinniest person in the room. I'm so, so, so glad that I can follow the old rule about not eating anything your grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. I also remember my mom telling me that her grandparents from Abruzzi wouldn't even eat frozen meat. They would say, "I'm not eating that. I don't know when it was killed."

I eat my share of American junk but not much of it, and to this day, I will still eat fresh food left to my own devices. Last weekend, my dinner was zucchini, garlic, and sliced red bell peppers fried up in olive oil, and mixed with some farro and a little bit of scamorza. This week, I've been eating the leftovers from a crockpot full of a chicken breast, diced tomatoes, cecis, zucchini, farro, some potatoes, and chard. Delicious.

Seriously, it's not hard. If you can't tell what species it used to be before it ended up on your plate, don't go near it.
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