One of my favourite books right now is “Olivia goes to Venice”. I recently mentioned it in my “V is for Venice” post, but we’ve already had this book for several years now. It is the story of Olivia, a very opinionated young pig, who goes on a vacation to Venice with her family. The title of my post refers to a conversation she has with her mother on the plane on the way to Venice. She asks her mother what they will have to eat when they get there and her mother says, “Don’t worry, honey, they have pizza and ice cream everywhere.” “Everywhere?” she asks, relieved.
Well, we are heading to Venice in a few months with our two picky eaters and I think I’m more relieved about the availability of kid friendly food in Italy than they are. And not only is pizza and ice cream widely available in Italy, it’s usually very good.
Some of my favourite food memories in Italy involve pizza and ice cream or, as Olivia corrected her mother, gelato. I remember arriving in Florence after an overnight train ride from Paris and finding casual restaurants with huge sheets of pizza sold by weight. No menu or knowledge of Italian was necessary. You pointed to the type you wanted and indicated the size with your hands and they’d slice it off, weigh your piece and hand it to you on a greasy paper plate. Fast food perfection.
And if my introduction to Italian pizza was amazing, well, my first real gelato was a little taste of heaven. A real Italian gelaterie has rows of metal tubs filled with all kinds of amazing flavours, usually labelled with small pictures or even real pieces of candies and fruits to help the tourists decide. Gelato is softer than ice cream and instead of an ice cream scoop they dish it up with a sort of metal paddle to pack it into the cup or cone and serve it with tiny, flat little plastic spoons.
I’m pretty sure I’ve gone quite a few days in Italy surviving on nothing but pizza and gelato.I’d alternate flavours by getting a fruity cone one time; maybe melon, berry and custard, then the next one more candy flavoured; bacio, biscotti and amaretto is a good combination. Or you could combine rose petal with vanilla or dark chocolate with raspberry. I still haven’t found the perfect combination, but I’m willing to keep working at it until I find it.
Our big summer trip to Italy is coming in just over three months and so far my kids know that Italy will have pizza and ice cream. They also know that it’s called gelato. And that may be all they eat while we’re there, but luckily for them, their mom is perfectly okay with that!