After stumbling upon this article in The Oregonian on Portland, OR food carts and their use of recyclable and compostable packaging and utensils, I started to think about my first time in Italy.
It was 2001, and I was on my first international food shoot (seriously, best first freelance job ever). Upon arrival, the crew piled into a white panel van and traveled around the country chauffeured by Francesco, our PA/driver who spoke very little English. I remember asking for a bottle of water – una bottiglia d’acqua – at a rest stop on our way from the Amalfi Coast to Rome and, instead of a disposable bottle of water, I received a glass of water. Literally, a real glass filled with water, not a paper or plastic cup, at a rest stop.
I realized I was actually expected to stop and rest, at the rest stop, kick up my heels, grab a paper, and enjoy my glass of water. It threw me for a loop. I glanced around, and found nothing that even resembled the sliding door refrigerators stocked with endless soda, juice, and water options familiar to all rest stop patrons in the United States. It was then I realized I was in a country with a food culture quite opposite to the fast food culture which I experienced daily.
Out of curiosity, I had to google “McDonald’s in Italy” to see how many McDonald’s were in Italy. Apparently, there are 290, making the country #10 on this list that outlines the fast food chains prowess. Compare that with 12,804 stores in the US. Also, I recommend this McDonald’s article I found about the McItaly burger and the Kiwi Stick. Fascinating.
But I digress. When I think about the number meals I’ve eaten while basking in the glow of my computer monitor at work, it reminds me that even when patronizing my favorite food cart or take out joint, I should consider taking the extra 15 minutes to actually sit down, not at my desk, and take time to experience the food I’m eating. Furthermore, taking those extra 15 minutes would allow me to enjoy the company I’m sharing my meal with.
That’s my challenge to you, our blog readers: see if you can adjust your eating habits once or twice this week, take the time to truly taste and enjoy your meal, do the sustainable, environmentally-friendly thing and use a real plate and silverware, take a moment to savor life, and drink a real glass of water.
Think you can handle that?