I was watching an interesting documentary about food recently and it struck me at how much living in Italy has changed the way I eat. Not sure if it was due to me subconsciously assimilating to the cultural influences here, but I’m quite surprised at how different the way I think of food now, compared back to when I was living in Singapore.
I blogged about how living in Italy has changed the way I eat some time back, and reading back on that post made me realise that what I thought was odd then is actually quite normal to me now.
So here are the things how living in Italy has changed the way I think about food :
1. I prefer to eat food that resembled how it used to be.
For example, I prefer to eat meat that has pieces of bones in it or when seeing a fish fillet, the skin and texture can tell me instantly what type of fish it was. I want to know that the meat really came from the specific animal.
Compared this to perhaps fish fingers for example, or other processed meats which tends to be mechanically separated. You could tell from the homogeneous texture when you slice them.
I’m not entire sure how this school of thought started but after sinking my teeth in a burger after not patronising a fast food restaurant for the longest time, it didn’t taste as good as I remembered.
I dare not say that I’ve sworn off these sort of things completely. But where ever possible, I prefer to eat foods which I can recognize.
2. I don’t crave for Singaporean food as much as before
There are days when I’d think of how much I’d love a plate of Nasi Ayam, or prata and curry.
I remember the first few years living in Rome, I spent a long time searching for South East Asian restaurants and many a times I was disappointed in the quality of the food or how expensive it was.
I’d also be travelling all around Rome to find spices and herbs commonly used in Malay cooking so that I could try to recreate the types of food that my mum used to make. There are still a few items that I have yet to find here, such as fresh curry leaves and pandan leaves which is why I don’t cook Malay food as frequently as I liked.
But in time, I realise that I’m actually okay with it. No point on stressing over it too much as there are always other good food to discover and eat. And I’ll save that particular appetite when I’m back in Singapore.
3. I make a conscious effort to read the labels
When I lived in Singapore, almost everything in the supermarkets were halal so making choices were easy – I just grabbed whatever that tickles my fancy.
Whereas in Italy, a number of items that I would normally take for granted may contain ingredients that isn’t good for me. And this has cultivated my habit of reading labels. The humble sandwich bread for example, most of them contains lard which I do not consume.
It’s quite interesting to read the ingredients in the packaged food that you eat. And the more I read them, the more I’m aware of what I’m eating. It surprises me sometimes when I read the ingredients that are added in food.
The indirect effect of reading labels is that it has encouraged me to to cook my own food wherever possible. While I’m not a chef, I do like almost everything that I made myself. There is something about eating home cooked food which makes it taste better and feels more satisfying to me. And not to forget, saves you money compared to eating the same meal thing out.
All in all, I wouldn’t say that I’ve gotten fussier about the things that I eat, as I’m still very open in trying new things. But living in Italy for the past five years has increased my awareness of the things that I’m consuming.
And I think it’s the same for anyone who’ve migrated – your point of view about things changes.