How living in Italy has changed the way I eat

I was reading an interesting post about how living in Italy has changed this blogger’s diet. While I’ve not been living here that long, there has been quite a lot of adjustments that I had to make.

Starting with …


While I was still living in Singapore, the choice of breakfast that I preferred was filling food such as Lontong, Nasi Lemak, Epok-epok and the likes. Thus I was stunned for the longest time when I had to make do with food like cereal and a couple of toasts with jam and juice for breakfast. And that’s pretty much it. Diet

What is this?! This is weak! There is absolutely no feeling of shiokness for me but I’m getting used to it. Moreoever, the Italian breakfast is supposed to keep you full just enough till your next meal.

Which comes to the next point …


For lunch and dinner, Italians have this set of dishes called the primo piatto, secondo piatto, and the contorno. Which simplified means, after they’ve eaten their appetizer, they eat a pasta dish, then a meat dish, and then a vegetable dish. The was quite odd for me, since we Asians lay every dish on the table to be eaten together. Diet

Oh, and another thing is that Italians are very particular about food times and would drop everything that they do for their meals. Lunch is always from 12.30 – 3.30 and dinner is always at 8.30 – 1030pm. Beware for those who choose to disturb an Italian during these times. You’d get an earful. And in the less touristy areas, you can forget about being served in a shop or in an office since everything is closed!

For sure, that took a lot of adjusting to. For me, I don’t have a definite time to eat. I just eat when I’m hungry!

Food portions

While my American counterparts would think that their food portion is smaller in Italy, personally for me I think its huge! Have you seen the size of a personal pizza for example? Pizza

Back in the Singapura, this would be shared by 2 people. That’s mushroom pizza by the way. Here in Italy, I’m struggling just to try to finish one and I’d look in amazement at Italian kids smaller than me who are able to finish one. If I’m lucky, I could push the leftovers for Cartcart to finish.

I hate leaving food leftovers. I’m so very tempted to pack a plastic bag with me. But its regarded low class

But its much more manageable for most other types of dishes though like Pasta, appetizer, desserts and others.

And while at home, Cart would usually like to divide our meals equally. And that’s usually a lot. I’d have to scrunch up my face and keep reminding him that we have different sized bodies and need different sized portions and give him the guilt trip that I’ve gained a lot of weight since my arrival in Rome. But that’s more towards married life than Italian food portions.

Food acessibility

When back in Singapore, its easy to take for granted at how acessible eating was for me. You could walk practically anywhere, and a huge chance that there will be at least one Halal eatery in front of you. Hawker Center
This is Jerrick after eating in a trattoria in Castelli Romani

Not so much in Italy.

Apart from several kebab shops, practically almost every Italian restaurants serves non Halal foods, we have to be very careful in what we order and be very vigilant in asking what every single ingredient in the food had. Forget about halal certification here. No such thing. So normally when we eat out, I’d just have seafood or go vegetarian. For those who are still doubtful, its not difficult to buy your own meat to cook at home.

Halal Meat

The first few months in Italy was agony for me. I craved for loads of things and above all things it was the burger. Prior I could just walk in a fast food restaurant and get one. But as said before, its not halal. So I got all emotional when I spotted out a Macdonalds or a Burger King in the vicinity. Interestingly by the way, there is no KFC in Italy which was odd because these three franchises was the fastfood triad in my opinion.

But in any case, after several months, I learnt about the location of halal butcheries where I could buy my chicken and beef among others to make my own food.

halal butchery in rome -

Like Pollo alla Cacciatora and Polpette Al Sugo which are divine by the way.

And the irony is, when Cart and I was on our way back to Singapore, I ordered a burger and instantly felt repulsed. Maybe my taste buds has changed since it detected the processed meat taste.


Prior to coming to Italy, I’m not so into coffee mainly because I keep getting bouts of migraines when I drank those instant coffee that my dad buys.

Hence, I was a little apprehensive when Cart offered me some freshly brewed moka. But since it was just a tiny little cup, I gave it a try. Some hours later and still no dizziness, made me more confident enough to try other types of coffee like Marocchino, Macchiato, Cappuccino, Espresso and others.

italian coffee cups -

I’m still not that big with coffee though. But I do appreciate it more now.

By the way, if you’re looking for the best coffee in Singapore, I would have to say Espressoul. Forget about starbucks. I’m sorry but they are just crap coffee.


I have a very itchy mouth and I love to snack. Its somewhat therapeutic for me when watching tv, when in the office, when waiting for the bus, when in the bus … But what’s amazing is that I’ve never seen any of my Italian friends snack in between meals. Ever!

But I still like to munch on stuff anyway every now and then. And while I don’t have my vegetable keropok, now I’m crazy about patatine! Diet

I tell you, this is the happiest day of my life, the day when I got this giant pack of potato chips in Bomarzo.

This for that

Of course, the biggest change I suppose is that instead of rice being my staple diet, it is now pasta. I love eating pasta be it the egg pasta or the wheat ones. And being married to an Italian, has made me more competent in the sensitivities of cooking Italian pasta.

But sometimes there are days when I get tired of eating pasta and cook some rice and ayam masak merah or daging masak kicap. Its my comfort food and it reminds me of home.

Apart from pasta, I got to experience different vegetables that I’ve never encountered before in while in Singapore like Radicchio, Carciofi and cool looking Cauliflowers. Diet

And last but not least is cheese. While there are some types of cheeses that I really cant stand, like Gorgonzola and will absolutely not kiss Cart after he consumes it. But there are some cheeses which I found out that I like, like Maarsdammer, Mozarella and stracchino. Diet

By the way stracchino is a slang for tired and the cheese is said to be made from the milk of tired cows … eh?

I think that’s all for now, there could possibly be more, but I cant think of any at the moment so maybe I’ll update again later. For now, Cart made some Lenticchie for dinner and I’m going to give it a try :-)

12 thoughts on “How living in Italy has changed the way I eat”

  1. In a new country one’s diet totally changes. I can relate to you, because my first days in Taiwan were quite a cultural shock and food was a big part of it. It’s so different than Malaysian or Singaporean. I thought I know Chinese food and then I came to Taiwan and I realized it’s something else. But now I have my fav dishes and enjoy most of the foods there.

  2. Hi marina! That’s a very nice post! I enjoyed reading it. I guess diets change due to circumstances but it sure sounds more healthier eating pasta than all our sinful rich local food. ;D

  3. Breakfast: POWER. U can eat tht much n still not feel shiok? Haha. I’m done with just 3/4 bowl of cereal with milk.

    Food portions and bagging: Hmmm. Why is it considered low-class to bag leftovers? I do bagging too, even in Singapore nowadays. I first learnt it when I was in the States, their portions were so huge I had no choice but to bag. And I felt good about myself when I bagged leftovers, cos I know I’m not wasting food. And do you know how much problem food wastage causes in Singapore? Read – Anyway. Bagging is good. I do it a lot nowadays.

    Halal food: My Muslim friends complain that it’s so hard to find good halal food places in Singapore – I guess they shouldn’t move to Italy.

    Coffee: ME LOVES.

    Snacking: Wow that’s a huge bag.

    Cheese: I like cheese but I’m not THAT adventurous haha.

  4. Hello Marina, this is not only a post, but a piece of sociology, I can say.
    Italy that you know, by the way, has totally changed since some years ago. The big difference between Italy and Singapore, you have detected it, is the accessibilty to the food. Much more easier in S’pore, anytime you want. But, attention, are restaurants opened in S’pore anytime as well? Because, as you know, in here you cannot find the model of food court, peculiar to your native country.
    Anyway, tourism and the change of lifestyle are changing our daily life you have more street food, but it is often a low quality one. And families rarely gather for lunch during working days, so now it’s the work schedule deciding when and where (and how) you’re going to eat.

    This is a totally different approach, anyway. I was stunned while listening Sally telling that in S’pore many people live to eat, instead of eat to live.
    What do you think about this topic, do you think it reflects the real situation in S’pore?

  5. Give me roti prata and char bee hoon anytime, man. Nearly 15 years in Europe and I’m still not into their kind of breakfast. Though I don’t mind a good English breakfast from time to time. But not halal for you, haha.

    It took me some time to go for that one-course-at-a-time meal. In France this means eating for 3-5 hours at times. In Singapore, I could have a few smaller meals in that period of time – and very shiok ones too. And when you have several courses served at the same time you also get more variety in one meal – which is missing here.

    Then in Italy you learn to eat pasta separately – when in France for example it usually comes with something else and in smaller portions. I’ve put on 12 kgs in one year like that.

    I’m also very frustrated with the lack of makan possibilities here. Either panini, pizza or you have to sit in a restaurant to have a bite. I was so used to having food everywhere I go…I miss that!

    By the way, your Fiat 500 post is closed to comments, so I’ll post it here. I love that car, we have it for a year now and it’s very comfortable and easy to drive. We are going to get a new one this year this time in red. The white one has less than 300 km and will cost 12 800 euros if you’re interested in it. It has a sunroof and poltrona frau red leather seats.

    If we leave Italy I think I’ll keep the new red one for me. It’s really a very nice small car.

  6. MKL

    The good thing out of this is that you find new things that you like and appreciate, like the foods that you’ve discovered. Of course its still nice to go back to comforting familiar food, in my opinon :-)


    Cheese is still fattening anyway … and all those carbs …. Still have to eat in moderation :-)


    No, I didnt know that about the food wastage situation. Thanks for the link, I’ll give it a check :-)

    The thing is, I could bag a pizza if I left about half of the pizza or more, if its just about 1/4 or less, I’d probably get a side eye and I keep wishing that I packed a plastic bag to take it away in secret :p

  7. Vandalin

    I still prefer my nasi lemak! But who knows man, after years of living here, I’ll lose that ability :p

    Just like I’ve lost my ability to tolerate heat now … hem


    Thank YOU for your post! It made me inspired enough to blog about this topic!

  8. Emanuele

    Yes, one of my favourite places to eat is in a Hawker center and its usually opened very early like 7am in the morning all the way at night like 9pm or so.

    Its very affordable with each food not costing more than 5 sing dollars each and acessible. I could go to one for breakfast and get my beloved epok-epok before going to work.

    Well, there is no such thing here. Unless you’re talking about bars where they serve coffee and panino for breakfast :p

    Food is a passionate topic for Singaporeans. And since its a lot more politically friendly that can be talked across all races and ages and religion, everyone can give their two cents about it. Go grab a coffee and I’ll get ready to talk what I can about food .. hehehehehe!!!


    3-5 hours is too long for me to sit down quietly. Already driving to Napoli from Rome is such a pain to stay still. I’m the type of person who sits down, eat and go. Nah I’d probably fidget too much.

    And yeah, there isnt that much variety of food in Rome. Sure, there are some Indian restaurants, African restaurants, Chines, Thai restaurants … but they are so unaccessible and really expensive.

    Oh and about the Fiat 500, I’ll think about it ok? I havent have my license yet and I’m just starting on my A3! Scooter before car :-p

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