A Taste of Peasant Cooking

Nowhere in the United States can I imagine having a dining experience quite like in Offida.  After an afternoon spent at a nearby winery, we gathered for a group dinner at the Osteria Cantina Offida in the Piazza del Popolo, the People’s square.  We dined outside amidst the locals out for an evening stroll.  A band played music to our left, and, surprisingly, I recognized several of the songs.  One of our professors commented that the music reminded her of a wedding playlist, and I thought that was the perfect way to describe the atmosphere.  There was a certain degree of formality to the dinner, due to eating with our professors at a restaurant, yet the overall feel was more casual.  The restaurant owner walked around between tables, chatting with the customers, many of which he seemed to know.  It certainly felt like a celebration that we had been lucky enough to attend.

The food was excellent too.  Although I was told the dishes were considered peasant cooking, they were really delicious. I think what excited me the most about this dinner was the abundance of vegetables on the table, a food group somewhat lacking what with all the pasta and protein at many of our group dinners.  In particular, there was a delicious potato puree topped with toasted breadcrumbs and caramelized onions.  However, there were some dishes that one needed to be a bit adventurous to try, such as the tripe.

The cuisine featured at this restaurant encompasses a principle uniform over much of Italy, which is to not waste food (hence the tripe, which is an animal’s stomach lining). While I applauded this principle in practice, I found myself hesitant to embrace it.  This goes to show the immense influence of personal preferences and social norms in shaping one’s diet.

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