I have always considered myself to have a cultured taste in foods. In Chicago, my favorite restaurants serve Latin and Asian food, and when I’m home, my mother makes excellent dishes from a variety of cultures such as French beef bourguignon and Italian piccata. So naturally, I had zero worries about any food culture shock happening during my time in Rome.
But this past week, some American-bred food cravings have crept into the dinner conversations at the John Felice Rome Center. Despite the food in the dining hall here being wonderfully fresh and far better than any other university cafeteria I have ever dined in — roasted peppers, fresh fish and copious amounts of pasta and pizza being some of the offerings — I have heard more than a few of my fellow classmates pining for cuisine from back home. Like that sweet spice that only Chipotle can offer or the gluttonous amounts of refillable Coca-Cola (with ice) that is served in the states.
My personal problem is the lack of hot sauces in Italian food such as sriracha, Frank’s or the green Tabasco (it’s hard for me to even write this as my eyes fill with tears of spicy remembrance). In the states I was the person who poured that wonderful spiciness on almost everything I ate. My friend even carried around a jumbo-sized bottle of Frank’s in her backpack for the greater part of last year until it plummeted to its demise in a bathroom.
I am sure that my stay in Rome is a nice vacation for my esophagus from spicy food, but my taste buds are going through some serious withdrawal.
My classmates and I are also aware of how spoiled and babyish we are acting while we’re living in the cultural center of the Western Hemisphere. We are in the land that is flowing with good bottles of wine and even better pizza — both available for less than 10 euro at any given time. We have gelato around every corner and the Vatican in our backyard.
So despite thinking about Chipotle almost once a day, I will try to stifle my weaknesses while enjoying my daily helping (heaping) of Nutella.