Mamma Mia! My Italian food experience

Almost 10 years ago a friend and I travelled to Torino (Turin) in the north of Italy to visit another friend who was living there for a year as part of her University degree. My friend lived in a beautiful apartment right in the heart of the city centre and it just so happened that our visit coincided with the Fiat Cinquecento Convention, with literally hundreds of colourful cars driving all over Europe for the celebrations. Her apartment happened to be right in the main square where all the cars were exhibited. And as if that couldn’t get any better, Lauryn Hill was due to perform as part of the festivities!

Italy was everything I thought it would be – beautiful mountain views, stunning scenery & architecture and relatively friendly people (minus the racism but that’s another blog). Food ( as you would expect) played a BIG part in our trip – late night falafels, daily doses of gelato, the morning ritual of freshly baked bread and delicious tasting cheeses… we were spoilt rotten with great food at relatively low costs.

One abiding memory I have of Torino was when my friend took us to a bar in town early one evening (don’t worry there was no seedy business involved). The bar served the most wonderful buffet of fresh food for less than 10 euros per person. But the reason it left such an impression was the innovative approach to their food menu. They didn’t have a set menu- the chef would literally decide what to make on that day based on the fresh produce leftover in the local markets  I can’t remember all the dishes on offer that evening but I do remember enjoying some tuna and butter bean salad, fresh Watermelon, Parma ham & cheeses, etc.

It was great because it was affordable (always useful when you are a University student on a tight budget); but I particularly valued the chef’s creativity (to come up with such recipes spontaneously) and their thrifty approach to buying ingredients which meant we were able to eat decent food at a relatively low cost. It was also quite healthy too because most of the food on offer was fresh produce.

Have you had a similar experience i.e. been to a restaurant / bar similar to this? Would you consider hosting a dinner for family or friends based on what ‘leftover’ purchases you could find from the local market?

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