If there was one thing Italy taught me, it was how to eat. Our group went out for “family dinners” and was served course after course of delicious food that we just couldn’t leave on our plates. By week five I had definitely expanded my eating ability and felt confident I could take on any meal Italy could dish out. However, I had gotten little ahead of myself and our group trip to a local farm set the record straight.
The owner told us that loving and skilled hands prepared our “light lunch” with ingredients from the farm itself. I don’t know what Italians define as light, but this lunch certainly did not match the American definition of the word. The appetizer alone consisted of ham, salami, pork loin, buffalo mozzarella, olives, capresina, bruschetta with stracchino and arugula, bruschetta with basil and tomato, and bruschetta with olive paste. Yes, that was just the appetizer! Each of us could probably have filled up on that plate alone, but there were more to come.
As a first course we were served lasagna al ragù (a basic beef lasagna). Since I am a vegetarian, I was given a delicious garlic and olive oil gnocchi instead. Everyone insisted that it was the best lasagna they had ever eaten, and some even requested second helpings. I’m not sure how they could stomach it because those farmers certainly did not skimp on portion sizes. I felt like I was living out Garfield’s ultimate fantasy – plates and plates of food were arriving at our table and everything was so delicious that we didn’t even know where to begin.
The second course consisted of grilled bacon and sausages along with roasted potatoes. I was given a plate with only potatoes, but I could hardly touch them because I was so full. Everyone ate a few bites here and there, but by that point the food coma had really started to set in. Much to our relief it was the last full course. After the meat and potatoes we were served must donuts and tiramisu. The meal was finally concluded with an optional shot of espresso.
After the platters were cleared, we sat and groaned with hands resting on our much-too-full bellies. Not a single one of us could have eaten another bite if we tried. It would have been nice if the farm provided wheelchairs for us to leave the restaurant area, but unfortunately we had to force our legs into commission, a seemingly impossible feat. I was convinced that I would never be hungry again. My stomach was so full that it would spend the rest of my life digesting that meal. Upon our return to campus, we collapsed onto couches, chairs, and any soft surface available for a much-needed nap. Suffice it to say that visions of sugarplums did not dance in our heads.
Food was one topic our group would constantly discuss – we’d talk about food we liked, disliked, wanted, missed, and had never tried. Despite our different interests, food continued to bring us together. Shared meals were a time for us to bond and create memories, and this was no exception. Lunch on the farm will always be a memory for us to talk and laugh about, an experience unlike any other. Personally, I hope I never eat that much again, but as they say, “When in Rome…”