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Food shop like an Italian: farmers markets & organic produce

fresh fruit markets italy

Above: Farmers markets and organic produce abound in Italy, where wholesome ingredients are a quintessential part of the Italian life style.

If you’ve ever been to Italy during summer, then you know that the tomatoes taste so much better there.

There’s a reason for that. And it’s not because Italians use gardening products to make their fruits and vegetables more robust or more flavorful.

In fact, there are a number of reasons why produce seems to taste better there on average.

- Italians food shop and cook seasonally. Tomatoes come into season during late spring and summer. No self-respecting Italian would serve you a tomato during the fall. At the end of summer, Italian families peel, seed, purée, and bottle their tomato crop (or they go buy tomatoes at a farmers market).

- Farmers market abound in Italy. Nearly every Italian city has a weekly if not daily farmer’s market where the growers sell their produce directly to families. The good news for us Americans is that more and more U.S. cities have farmers markets these days. Just Google your city’s name and “farmers market” and you might be surprised what you find.

- Italians prize organically grown food. Organic farming is just starting to catch on here in the U.S. But in Europe, it’s been popular for decades now. In fact, Italians see organic farming not only as a way to deliver better-tasting and more wholesome food. They also view it as a civic responsibility. If everyone farmed organically, i.e., without the use of chemicals, the world would be a better place for our children and our children’s children, goes the logic.

Americans are still fundamentally challenged when it comes to buying top-quality, fresh, and organic fruits and vegetables.

If you don’t have a farmers market in your town, look for CSA or Community-Sustained Agriculture programs near you. These programs, which have popped up across the country, connect farmers directly with consumers.

And, of course, more and more these days, even the major chain and national speciality super markets carry more and more organic foods.

Food shop like an Italian! Not only will your food taste better, but you’ll also make the world a better place!

Relax like an Italian: take time out to savor your meal

what is mortadella

Above: Some of the best pizzerias in Rome now often serve sauceless pies topped with freshly sliced mortadella.

One of Italy’s greatest gifts to the world is its culinary traditions. Pasta, pizza, caprese salad, osso buco, risotto, panini…

And the list goes on and on: just think of the many Italian and Italian-inspired dishes that have become part of our own culinary traditions here in the United States.

Most Americans couldn’t live without them!

When cooking Italian food at home, always look for the freshest ingredients and take advantage of the many excellent Italian cookbooks that are available today and the many Italian food bloggers who post regularly about their favorite recipes.

But there’s another Italian lesson that we can all benefit from by taking time to properly savor our food and enjoy mealtime.

Sitting down at the lunch or dinner table is a sacred event in daily Italian life. No matter how hectic the workday or how busy the schedule, Italians always put a hold on everything when they sit down to eat.

It’s a time for workers to recharge and families to reconnect.

And here’s the Italians’ best-kept secret: by relaxing and winding down at the lunch or dinner table, you’ll also digest your food more easily.

So the next time you sit down for a meal, whether at home or while taking a break from work, eat like an Italian by taking time out to truly taste every morsel.

Go to the movies like an Italian: the Venice Film Festival

best movie venice film festival

Above: Adam Driver signing autographs at this year’s Venice Film Festival.

Italians are passionate about cinema. And they have every right to be: The Italian filmmakers of the 1920s and 30s were pioneers and they produced some of the greatest movies of that era.

By the 1950s and 1960s, Italian films topped the box office charts: Vittorio De Sica, Roberto Rossellini, Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni… The list can go on and on.

Italian cineastes from that era created some of the world’s favorite movies and most enduring images.

Just think of heartthrob Marcello Mastroianni wooing bombshell Anita Ekberg at the Trevi Fountain in Rome in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita! The scene is one of the most famous images captured on film of all time.

The Venice Film Festival, now in its seventy-first year, is currently underway and will show its final film Saturday of this week. It is the world’s oldest film festival and, together with the Cannes festival, it is arguably the world’s most prestigious.

And just to add icing to the cake, it takes place each year in the beautiful city of Venice, where residents use canals and gondolas instead of streets and cars.

The festival is part of the city’s Biennale art festival, which spans the entire year with screenings, exhibitions, art shows, and other artistic “happenings.”

The film festival (just like all the other events) are open to the public.

You can learn more about the festival by visiting its website, which includes ticket information.

And we highly recommend taking a look at the Wikipedia entry for the festival. It gives a great overview of the festival’s origins and its importance in the world of cinema today.

And of course, when you attend a screening, don’t forget to turn to the person sitting next to and say, buona visione!, enjoy the movie!

Image via the Venice Film Festival website.

Grill like an Italian: go gourmet HAMBURGER crazy!

labor day grill recipe hamburger

Many of you will be surprised to learn that Italians have gone HAMBURGER CRAZY!

Over the course of the last two years, scores of hamburger-themed restaurants have appeared across Italy, from Milan to Rome and beyond.

And Italian food bloggers join in the fun by rating and ranking the many different restaurants where they’re now serving all-American burgers, sharing recipes, and bragging about the “best hamburgers” they’ve ever eaten.

The fad is so popular, in fact, that you’ll often hear Italians use the English bacon when they order their “bacon cheeseburgers” (“amburgher con formaggio e bacon”)!

(Traditionally, bacon is called pancetta in Italian.)

Here at Live Like an Italian, we’re already planning our all-American burger Labor Day menu.

Italian food blog best

Above: Italian food bloggers love to rate and rank their gourmet hamburgers!

There’s probably no wine that pairs better with hamburgers than the Mazzoni Piemonte Barbera: it’s bright, fresh, and lively in the glass and it’s also a wine that Italians like to chill during the summer.

Here’s our Labor Day grilling menu wine pairing tip: put your bottle of Mazzoni Piemonte Barbera in the fridge the night before your Labor Day bash; take it out of the fridge about 20 minutes before you plan to serve it to your guests; it will be just the right temperature (chilled but not so cold that it will mask the juicy, delicious flavors of the wine).

Please click here to read more about this fantastic wine for pairing with hamburgers this Labor Day!

Truffle hunting in the U.S.A. just like in Italy!

black summer truffles umbria

Above: Summer truffles foraged in Umbria, not far from the Mazzoni winery in Tuscany.

The U.S. truffle foraging season doesn’t begin until the fall but it’s never too early to begin planning your trip to truffle country!

It was once believed that truffles — a Tuber (not a mushroom) – were found only in Europe.

But today, there are a number of truffle “farms” scattered across the U.S. and in some areas, the naturally occurring truffles are so abundant that the culinarily adventurous can book “private truffle forays.”

The most popular destination is Oregon, where truffle hunting begins in late November and lasts throughout the spring.

The spring and the summer are the seasons for black truffle hunting in central Italy, where Mazzoni wines are made.

August is generally the last month when hunters head to the wood with specially trained truffle hunting dogs.

In another era, pigs were used. Female pigs are attracted to the scent of truffles but they would often eat their bounty once they found it!

Dogs, on the other hand, can be trained to find the truffles and not eat them.

So if you want to hunt for truffles just like an Italian, simply Google “truffle foray” or “truffle hunting America” and you’ll find a wide array of truffle hunting packages.

And in case you just want to eat truffles (and not hunt for them), be sure not to miss the Oregon Truffle Festival in January.

Ferragosto: relax like an Italian!

best italian beach

Some may find it hard to believe. But it’s true.

In Italy, nearly everyone takes a vacation on or around August 15, a holiday known as Ferragosto (Italian for August vacation).

Some people go the beach. Others to the mountains. Many will leave the country. And plenty of folks will just stay at home. After all, when you live in Italy, you are surrounded by beauty — natural and artistic — wherever you are!

Across the boot, shopkeepers close up their business and signs that read chiuso per ferie (closed for vacation) appear everywhere.

Of course, there are some people who don’t take the holiday off: for people who work in the tourist industry, it’s the busiest time of year.

But the average Italian looks forward to this date each year and most take up to two weeks off.

It’s a sacred ritual. A time to relax, recharge, and take stock.

Even the team at Mazzoni takes time off from their work in the vineyard and the cellar. As Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Binodocci wrote on his blog last week, he and his entire staff are on vacation from August 9-17. They’ll come back just in time for the harvest.

So even if you can’t take a week off this month, take time out to savor a meal and enjoy a glass of wine. It’s just one way that we can live like Italians, too!

How are you living like an Italian? #MazzoniMonday #Contest

best italian wine for pizza

It’s August, which means Italians are taking a two-week holiday. While they’re celebrating summer, we want to celebrate YOU. Visit our Facebook page to take part in our first ever #MazzoniMonday. Take a picture of how you’re living like an Italian this week: cooking like an Italian, playing like an Italian, or simply feeling Italian. Post your photo to our wall with #MazzoniMonday. We’ll pick a winner to receive a prize and a feature on our page. Buona fortuna!

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