Italian cuisine is incredibly rich and varied. Maybe that’s why people tend to be so attached to their particular way of eating and drinking. Even if you just want a coffee after lunch or dinner, it should generally be an espresso. If I were ever to order a cappuccino after lunch, I would definitely get a cold stare—like there must be something wrong with the Asian taste buds. Italians see drinks with milk in them as being something you have with breakfast, and it’s typical to have an espresso to cleanse the stomach and palate when you’re full from eating pasta. The Italians completely turn their nose up at American-style coffee, but they are starting to warm up to food from other countries—so that may be why a lot more of them enjoy it than they used to.
Italian supermarkets have been changing dramatically in recent years. They of course highlight the non-GMO products, products made without palm oil, and so on, indicating the latest advances in their food research. There’s also been an explosion in the number of products aimed at people with food allergies. Even just picking up some cookies for the family involves a ton of requests for something “free”. He needs lactose-free, I need gluten-free, he needs low-sugar, she needs yeast-free…
Supermarkets used to advertise foods as having this or that ingredient, but now it’s completely opposite. Italy is frantically developing products for people with food allergies, and products free of this and free of that are suddenly everywhere. As little as a year ago, people with allergies would have to settle for poor-tasting anti-allergy foods—but they’ve made such rapid progress with them that even people without the allergy are often impressed with how good they taste. They’ll probably come up with foods that are free of every single allergen at some point.
As an aside, when I went to an American supermarket a few decades ago, they were always advertising products as “low fat”—and I remember my brain starting to calculate calories looking at all those products competing to have the fewest number… so much so that I ended up not being able to choose anything and leaving the store empty-handed.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to make things look delicious, do what you can to bring out the flavors, and have fun seasoning, preparing, and combining different dishes. That’s what I hope everyone tries to do.
I also have allergies, which I know are related to age and certain times—which means that the most important thing for us is to avoid stress. We should all try to live life in a stress-free way!