Do you mix olive oil and vinegar together? Italians don’t.

Long ago, before I even knew Cart and living in Singapore, I was brought to La Forketta by a friend. As we sat down, I saw a small bowl and curiously peered at it. “What’s this for?” I asked. My friend Juli poured some olive oil and some balsamic vinegar in it. “Dip some bread in it and eat it. It’s nice!

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Beautiful photo by Tony Tahhan

It looked like such an odd combination, the golden and dark viscous liquids, not mixing together. Like a science experiment. But doing so seemed like a good way to appreciate the taste of the breads. And since then, it has been the norm to go to any Italian restaurant (outside of Italy) to expect a basket of bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

And now that I’ve been living in Rome, it’s interesting to note that you’ll never find this in Rome or anywhere else in Italy.

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Exquisite food at Il Bavaglino

Meals in Italy are served as courses. And bread is usually served during the first course onwards (not as appetiser) and are usually used to wipe away any remaining sauces from pasta or oil and vinegar from salad dishes.

Cart would always be amused with this when we head to Italian restaurants in Singapore.

Makes me wonder what other culture changed as soon as it went out of the country. One thing that I could think of at the top of my head is mixing wasabi and soy sauce together to be eaten with sushi. I’m not sure if the Japanese actually do it, but almost everyone I know does! And we do it so often, that it feels very natural to do so.

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I wonder how many Japanese people baulk at the idea.

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