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.