Most people who travel through a wider world will tell you there’s no place like home, even after wallowing in foreign food.
No offense to the land you love. On the other hand, we didn’t exactly originate all the best dishes of food in the history of the world. Like most nations, we borrow from all the other nations. Most embarrassing of all, though you love your country, you must admit we didn’t invent pizza.
That doesn’t necessarily mean Italians invented pizza. Greeks insist they invented pizza. Generations ago, some fire-tending Greek woman was toasting the gummy wheat paste she called bread when she rubbed a wild tomato on that early dough.
No doubt more than one fire-dough lady in the world tried rubbing tasty stuff on roasting dough. It’s pretty much the same process as inventing the wheel. Who did that?
Practically everybody did that, sooner or later.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Moses came down from the mountain and, in addition to a couple of tablets, wearing a big honking smile and bearing a wad of dough cooked with a smear of coagulated goat milk – potentially the first cheese pizza in history.
On the other hand, my money is on the Italians, whether they were truly the first in the world to discover pizza. I have tasted many pizzas. More often than not, the best was an actual Italian pizza made in the tasty land of Italy.
Something similar could be said of other great Italian foods. Granted, Italy wasn’t alone in inventing pasta, but Marco Polo did study under Chinese cooks and enlarged upon the long, stringy shapes of that splendid dish.
However, on a sad note, I had always expected everything I tasted in Italy to be worthy of Moses, Marco and me – until that awful day when I took my first gagging taste of Nutella.
Nutella is a sweetened chocolate and hazelnut (or filbert) spread created by an Italian. It’s the same way you and I would use peanut butter, but fortunately, peanut butter lacks the excessive overdose of icky sweet chocolate.
(I am compelled to admit I bear Nutella a grudge. My parents, in a weak moment, named me Wilbert. School mates can’t resist teasing a person with a silly name. To this day, I hear distant voices of cruel classmates singing, “Wilbert the filbert” and then laughing hysterically).
True, I am aware that some American children actually ingest Nutella, and apparently the poor little things enjoy it.
We all have our odd weaknesses. For instance, my own mother loved buttermilk. Even a mother can get hooked on distorted drinks.
I will oppose neither buttermilk nor Nutella. But Nutella may cause an omission from Italian cuisine. Peanut butter is hard to find in Italian stores. If Italian merchants stock it at all, they stick it back in a corner for homesick tourists.
I occasionally hear my fellow superpatriotic Americans ask why a person would visit Italy or France when there is no country on the face of the earth better than America.
Granted, I do dislike Italy on weird occasions when people are actually eating Nutella rather than peanut butter.
We don’t have much Nutella here in the United States, thank goodness, but we Americans do have a snooty habit of thinking every food, automobile or potential spouse in the world is inferior to the similar gems of our country.
I have to admit, the Italians do have the best pizzas I have ever tasted. But I am concerned: It’s just a matter of time before some crazy Italian chef, drunk on buttermilk, creates a pizza slathered in Nutella.
Contact Bill Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 1012 Prospect Ave., Lewiston, ID 83501.