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Non-Italian dining in Italy

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Alanna H

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Non-Italian dining in Italy

by Alanna H » Thu Nov 09, 2017 1:36 pm

(Close your eyes, Robin, you're gonna consider this post blasphemous!)

Next May I will be going to Italy for 10 days- a couple days in Florence, a couple in Venice, and then the rest of the time we'll be in Rome. This is my first trip out of the country and I'm pretty excited about it. Except for eating. Because I don't like Italian food. I eat very little pasta- due to medical reasons I have to have a low-carb, high-protein diet. I don't care for lamb or seafood (although I do love well-prepared scallops and can eat salmon or tuna steak). Not a big fan of tomato sauce (though I love fresh tomatoes).

But most importantly, I hate hate hate cannot express it enough I absolutely hate cheese. Don't try to sell me on it. I'm 42 years old and it's as disgusting and stinky now as it has been all my life. The smell of it sends me into dry heaves. People shopping around me in the Kroger gourmet cheese section can attest to this.

So with this affliction in mind, am I going to be able to find anything to eat? Our tour will provide a few pre-booked meals here and there, but not many; plus I'll be on my own in Rome for four days with friends once the tour ends. Having never traveled out of the country before I didn't know if I could expect to find restaurants of different varieties and ethnicities like here, or if I should just expect to go hungry most of the time. Would appreciate any input or advice you might have!
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Re: Non-Italian dining in Italy

by Robin Garr » Thu Nov 09, 2017 3:16 pm

Alanna, unfortunately your aversions cover a lot of Italian favorites, but I'm pretty sure you can find something you'll like. Are you okay with rice? Particularly in Venice and Florence, you can get lots of risotto with vegetables or meats that you do like, and I expect they'd hold the cheese on request. Pasta is just one option, and in fact it's usually only the first course at fancy restaurants. The second-course main dishes are more like ours. Is veal an option for you? There are tons of veal dishes.

Here's one idea: Why not look at the menus of good local Italian places like Volare, Ciao, Silvio's, DeFabio's, etc., and get a feel for dishes on their bill of fare that suit your needs? Feel free to come back to this thread and ask questions about any of them that look good.

Buon appetito! I'm sure you can make this work. I've found Italians very friendly and eager to please, and you should find them cooperative in making a dish work for you.
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Re: Non-Italian dining in Italy

by Alanna H » Thu Nov 09, 2017 10:56 pm

I love rice and risotto, Robin, I just have to make sure not to eat a lot of it in one sitting, and to focus on meat or eggs first. And I've actually never had veal!

I will take a look at the menus for the places you mentioned- thank you for that suggestion! (I always skip over Italian restaurants when they're mentioned here or reviewed, because I assume it's going to be one big cheesy pasta fest.)

I do have another question. I don't want to come across as an entitled American, but is it typical for restaurants there to have menus in English as well as Italian? I'm so worried about getting through the language barrier, or coming across as rude because I can only speak English.
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Re: Non-Italian dining in Italy

by Jay M. » Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:14 pm

You say you will be on a tour. We have found that the guides are very alert to their guests' dining preferences and can direct you to places that will suit you. Also, consider discussing what you're looking for with the hotel desk/concierge and they can help you. I don't think you'll have any trouble finding things in those cities; however, many visitors are seeking out what you're trying to avoid, so it might be good to check in advance.

To give you an idea of the diversity of dining options in European "tourist" cities we saw a Hooters in Prague and in Interlaken, Switzerland. :shock:

Regarding language: you will have no problem in Rome, Florence, or Venice. Most menus will include an English version, although, sometimes the translation of certain food terms is a little obscure. It seems that locals are very anxious to practice their English on Americans! You might use some very basic Italian when appropriate: greetings, please, thank you, where are the bathrooms, beer, wine, etc.

I thought this was good, too:

http://www.thekitchn.com/xx-european-etiquette-rules-you-should-know-249660

You'll have a blast.
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Re: Non-Italian dining in Italy

by Robin Garr » Fri Nov 10, 2017 8:52 am

Jay's answer is great! I might add that you'll be more certain of having English menus and staff reasonably competent in English in the larger cities. If you were to venture out into some smaller villages on your own, it gets more interesting, but the lovable thing about Italy is that people in general are so friendly, eager to communicate and eager to please. I love Italy, and I hope you will, too.
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Re: Non-Italian dining in Italy

by Alanna H » Sun Nov 12, 2017 3:06 pm

Thank you, Jay and Robin. This helps me feel much more relaxed now about what to expect. I was torn about taking a tour, because I love planning my vacations in the US and choosing what we do (we do a lot of off-the-beaten-path dining and activities), being on my own as far as driving, choosing accomodations, etc. Taking a tour where everything is pre-planned and geared toward touristy sights isn't exactly my idea of fun...but the thought of tackling a foreign country on my own was a bit overwhelming.

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