Sunday, April 26, 2009

when in Rome....

Five years ago I was fortunate enough to spend 2 glorious weeks aboard a Mediterranean cruise with my brand new husband of 3 days! It was a fantastic honeymoon that allowed us to discover a number of iconic spots like Rome, Venice, Barcelona, Nice, Monaco and Florence. The trip we enjoyed so much was the epitome of romance for a couple of kids in love.

Kevin and I were both looking forward to tasting the food and wine and let me tell you, we certainly did a lot of that! However I was surprised to see that in countries known for the rich, high fat, high carbohydrate foods the only obese people we saw were the thousands of other North Americans on board. The majority of the Europeans we met were lean and athletic looking. We did see overweight Italians but they weren't from Venice or Sicily, they were from Jersey.

Common sense would imply that pastas smothered in rich sauces paired with copious amounts of wine, bread and cheese would pack on the pounds, but after we had spent some time there, the authentic European diet revealed itself as far more healthy than the American version. Our pizzas here are loaded with fatty meats and pounds of cheese atop thick crusts. The pizza I had in Venice was small with a thin crust, about an ounce of cheese and maybe an ounce of pepperoni. I would estimate it was about one fifth the calories of what I would be served on my side of the Atlantic.

We found this to be the norm in Europe. Yes the food is delicious and rich but the portions are very small and the dining experience is centered more on the social aspect with lively conversation, clinking glasses with good friends and enjoying the evening. Dinner is an event, not a chore and it is not uncommon for it to last for 3 hours or more. People take the time to enjoy the food taste by taste as opposed to wolfing it down as if it were a race.

We should take a few cues from the old world and learn to enjoy the culture of meals. Sit down to dinner with your family or friends and enjoy the conversation while also taking time to enjoy a meal. Not only is this practice good for your relationships, it's also good for your waistline.


  1. Sounds like a wonderful honeymoon. My mother is taking me to Italy in Sept for 2 weeks for my 30 th yay!

  2. You lucky girl! Italy is an amazing place! It's so incredible beautiful and unique!