The year I spent studying in Florence is a blur of long nights in an old shared apartment in the center of town, walks along the narrow streets to the University building, the ice-cream cones from Vivoli and the double orders of pappa al pomodoro every time I sat down at the trattoria we used to call Unto (the Greasy one). Even then, the throngs of tourists cramming the cobbled streets and piazzas were a nuisance. Unlike Rome, Florence is rather small and it’s impossible to go about your everyday business without having to sidestep multitudes of Japanese, Americans, Germans and their umbrella-carrying tour guides. As beautiful as the city is, I never saw myself living amid that chaos.
It’s official: the Mediterranean diet will keep you healthy, it will lower the risks of clogged arteries and their consequences all the while allowing you to eat yummy foods, including chocolate. What it will not do is help you lose weight. I am summing up in two lines a rigorous study done by the University of Barcelona, Spain, over the course of seven years, a study that has made headlines the world over. As if we didn’t know that eating grains, vegetables, pulses, nuts and fish was good for us. And yes,
I we also knew dark chocolate is very good for you. And sofagirl we also knew a glass of wine a day keeps the doctor away.
It took me a long time to reconcile my palate with some staple American holiday desserts like pumpkin or sweet potato pies and pecan pie. As much as I love custards, pumpkin is not my go to for a satisfying slice of pie and pecan pie, the way I came to first know it, was a cloying, overly sweet and sticky mess I found downright abominable. The reason for it is that most commercial pecan pies are made with an ungodly amount of corn syrup and, regardless of which side of the fence you sit on when it comes to corn syrup, the end result in a pie is an unpleasant sweetness that overpowers the nuts.
During the worst of our salad days, sofagirl and I could often be found settling in for the evening on our uglier than thou green couch, under a blanket or two, watching our rented telly. Invariably, one of us would voice what the other was thinking “I want candy”. After a supper that hardly veered from either veggie stew or cereal, with curry from the local Indian once a week, it seemed like a reasonable craving; and a long philosophical discourse would ensue as to who and why should brave the cold and go. Eventually one of us would break down, bundle up and trudge in the rain to the corner store.