Europe Does It Right

As I stood in the butcher shop, or macelleria, in San Cassiano, Italy, staring at the meats hanging along the wall and what looked like a family working behind the counter, I wondered, why is the food here so good?

Back in America, I live in a place where the ground is fertile. Things can grow. It’s Nebraska for goodness sakes. If you drive through the state, you will be tired of corn after the fourth hour of looking at the continuous rows. You also might be nauseous from the smell of the cattle feedlots as you drive through Ogalalla, NE. The food tastes different in Europe. The yogurt is better. The cheese is better. The meat is better. What is different about the land on which the cows graze and the vegetables grow?


Read More

Hot Food, Served On A Plate, Eaten While Sitting

I have now been in San Cassiano, Italy for a week and could write volumes about the amazing alps and Alto Adige. As if the last week wasn’t great enough, the man had to pull something as crazy awesome as a spa day at Hotel Fanes: massage, sauna, a “quiet relax room” with a heated water bed, and naked Europeans. When a girl doesn’t think that things could possibly get any better, this ultra pampering session was followed by an impromptu three-course dinner in the Chef’s office.

A stock broker can get desensitized to money because she sees it all day long, and when the Dow drops 650 points, it’s really just another day at the office (stay with me here). Similarly, working in the food industry can cause a cook to be desensitized and forget how food makes people feel. We in the restaurant business don’t get to sit down very often to enjoy a hot meal. We forget what it’s like. Most of the time we eat standing up, perhaps over a trash bin because we’re too busy to actually put the food on a plate. (Especially if you’re in the shit and can’t get your work done fast enough because you’re still a shitty cook when it comes down to it, but work up a sweat all day trying to improve.) Sacrificing normal-people dinnertime rituals is what we do to make others feel happy during their dinner time. When you think about it, food really is quite simple. You either make people happy or you don’t. And a lot of us try to make people happy 100% of the time. The endless pursuit of perfection can be mentally and physically taxing. Sometimes if we don’t step away often enough, we forget what it feels like to be served a hot meal, on a plate, while sitting down. And if we don’t step back every once in a while from what we work so hard at every day and reflect on what is really important, we might just forget what that is. It’s just food after all.

Sometimes what a girl needs is just to sit down and be served a hot meal…in Italy…by a sweet chef…and take a deep breath of mountain air.