Prior to moving to Italy, I spent two of my summers here, working on archaeological digs in Ravenna and Sardinia. My university colleagues asked me about my experience on Italy’s second largest island, and I summed it up by saying, “Well, in Sardinia, you’re a lot closer to your food.” Italy is tough for an animal lover; here, the bunnies and doves and songbirds and in some regions (like Sardinia), even the horses that we so love and anthropomorphize in the US are first and foremost food. I can hardly admire a pretty bird without Paolo saying, “Oh, those are good.” He doesn’t mean good to look at, and he mostly says it to get my goat (though I don’t think they eat goats here).
In the US, mostly because of my love of animals, I was very nearly a vegetarian, though I occasionally ate fish and chicken. (I understand that for real vegetarians, occasionally eating fish and chicken doesn’t count as being a vegetarian. They are absolutely right and I acknowledge my hypocrisy. Now let’s move on.) When I would visit Italy on my own and later to see Paolo, I avoided meat without too much difficulty, though my dinner choices were often limited. This is and was especially true at restaurants, where chicken is not really considered an entree one would seek out for a nice dinner. There are no veggie burgers or vegetable fajitas on Italian menus, though you may see the rare omelet. Mostly, if you want to eat vegetarian, it’s pasta, pasta and more pasta.
|This is a lucky chicken; her only job is to lay eggs.|