We’re in Italy. Sara is teaching this weekend at the Yoga Festival Italia, in Milan. Coming to Milan, means visiting my parents-in-law. Visiting my Italian mother-in-law means eating Italian food. Good Italian food. And by now, I know how to eat it.
See, I’m Dutch. There is a reason the Netherlands isn’t famous for its food. The cheese maybe, but can you think of a famous Dutch dish? Italy is pizza, pasta, polenta, seafood. What do we have in the Netherlands? Potatoes?
Quantity above quality
In the last ten, 15 years going out for dinner has become more fancy in the Netherlands. But the most popular places are all you can eat places. Unlimited sushi, unlimited spareribs. That’s quantity, not quality.
Having said that, my biggest mistake, meeting my Italian mother-in-law had everything to do with quantity.
As I said, I’m Dutch. If you eat pasta in the Netherlands, you eat a plate of pasta. That’s it. When you’ve finished your plate, you’re done. The meal is over. In Italy it doesn’t work like that. In Italy pasta is just the start of your meal. Or not even that. Pasta is the second thing you eat. Which is called primo, to make it easy.
It was somewhere in March 2016 that I met my Italian mother-in-law for the first time. Sara and I were just reunited after our holiday love. I flew over to Monza, Italy and we spent a week together. And in that week we went to visit her parents. Which in Italy means, we went over to have dinner.
Dinner started with an antipasto. Finger-food. A little bite. A starter, I thought, but again, I’m not Italian. After the antipasto followed pasta. Dinner, I thought. Little did I know.
I finished my pasta, and my mother-in-law asked if I wanted to have seconds. I did. The pasta was great. To her delight I even cleaned my plate with a piece of bread. Satisfied, and with a more than full belly I moved my plate away. Happy to have eaten it all, and to have made a good first impression.
Then it happened… the real meal appeared. Meat and veggies. Lots of them, because pasta isn’t a meal in Italy. It’s a primo. A little thing you eat after your starter, but before your secondo, your real meal.
I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to eat some. And after that, to eat some cheese, and after that dessert, and after that a cup of tea with a piece of chocolate. What I do know is that the next day I didn’t eat anything at all.