When I first met my friend Lisa, we had just become co-workers. My personal version of How to Make Friends and Influence People can be summed up in the idea that when you feed people yummy food, they are probably going to like you. So, on my first day in the office, I made a comment that went something like, “Do you guys like to eat? Because I like to cook, and I LOVE to cook Italian food!”
BOOM! Three years (and not as much Italian food as you’d expect) later, and we’re still friends. Our friendship may not be bound by beef braciole, but I’m sure the occasional cannoli or tiramisu shared over cups of cappuccino would not go unnoticed or unappreciated.
You may consider my title a bit hyperbole in nature, but I stand by my words. Allow me to support my statement in the following points:
1. Italian food is perfect before you even order it. All anyone has to do is pronounce the name of an Italian dish to herald its perfection. Pasta primavera, fettuccine alfredo, lasagna, bruschetta, pasta e fagioli, mozzarella caprese, linguine frutti di mare…the syllables beg you to swirl them around in your mouth, savoring them before enunciating and sharing them with the world. Too dramatic, you say? I think no, mi dispiace.
2. Italian food is perfect before you even taste it. You know what I mean. The aroma wafts from the quaint little restaurant downtown – the one with checkered tablecloths and mismatched chairs. Garlic, fresh basil, oregano, and love…melding together to embrace you, leading you to your table, like a siren of the senses.
3. Italian food is perfect from the first bite. The table has been laid with a colorful bounty – fresh bread, herbs in olive oil, pasta and red sauce, or white. Basil pesto in a brilliant green. Meatballs, braised chicken, shrimp. Cheese. Your twirl your fork in a mound of spaghetti or fettuccine, raise it to your lips and close your eyes. Mmm…I think you know what I’m saying. P-E-R-F-E-C-T-I-O-N.
And, I haven’t even started on the dolce (desserts).
As if all that isn’t enough to prove my point, I would like to add that I think Italian food is perfect not just because of how it smells, looks or tastes, but because of how it makes you feel. It’s truly beguiling. It always seems to carry a story – pictures of generations of family eating together, laughing, smiling, loving. Italian food not only carries a story, but offers a promise of better days. And, mama mia, who wouldn’t want that on a plate?