I think our favourite type of food is Italian – I tend to cook Italian-ish and that’s often our choice in restaurants. And yet, we’ve always found eating well in Italy to be a challenge. It has always seemed darn near impossible to get away from the dreaded tourist menu and the same dozen dishes, often badly done. Venice was the most difficult.
Then we came to Bologna. Bologna la grassa – Bologna the fat – is one if its nicknames. It is a foodie city. And more importantly, it is not a touristy city. Not like Rome, Venice, Tuscany, the Amalfi coast. There is a huge university here – somewhere around 100,000 students, which keeps things lively. And there is a big trade/convention centre in the new part of the city. In fact the biggest trade show of the year is going on this week – the ceramic tile people are in town. (Seem like a quiet bunch)
But what there is not is hordes of tourists in busses and all the infrastructure that they need. There are lots of things to see and do, but mostly the people around us are the local people doing there own thing.
The great thing about this is that it is easy to avoid the dreaded tourist menu. Being tourists we’re always wanting to eat too early, but we’ve managed to turn this to our advantage. We show up right at noon when its not busy and we can have the full attention of the wait staff and tell them we want to eat the specialties of the region or the town. We’ve been eating such good stuff!
Pumpkin filled ravioli with walnut sauce for me, salama de sugo with mashed potatoes (and sparkling red wine) in Ferrara.
Parmesan cheese and Parma ham in …. Parma!
The only downside is that after these huge lunches, with wine, there’s no way we can face dinner! But I think one good meal a day beats a couple of indifferent ones, anytime. We may have more of a challenge ahead of us as we head to the coast and the more touristy areas. Here’s hoping!