Which is why whenever there is family, there is always food. In the Italian culture, as I've witnessed growing up, the two words are synonymous with each other.
Every occasion, from family meals to holiday gatherings, were graced with mountains of food choices - no one ever left our house hungry.
Italians in Italy are the same way.
With every planned visit or casual drop-in to say "ciao", you are offered something.
Whether it be a sampling of sliced salami and sopressata; a few delicate amaretti and espresso; or an entire meal of roasted chicken and potatoes prepared from scratch upon your arrival.
Having visited Italy over a dozen times so far in my lifetime, I have learned a lot about the customs and traditions rooted in Italian soil.
Of course, many of these were passed onto me through my parents, but there is nothing quite like experiencing these traditions in the land where they were born.
Italians are generally very happy people.
They are often loud and boisterous. They use their hands when they talk. They are passionate about many things.
Politics. Soccer. Religion. Family. And of course, food.
Not surprisingly, most of the conversations about these subjects take place over mid-morning cappucini or late-night cene (dinners). Food seems to pop his head in at every possible opportunity.
Open markets, butchers, bakers, pastery shops...
These places dot the streets wherever you go. And don't get me started on the gelaterias!
Gelato, or the Italian version of ice cream, is literally a heavenly gift to mankind.
I have yet to find anything in the U.S. that can rival or even compare to this silky, delicious goodness in a cone. And believe me, the Italians know how to relish this treat!
One of the ways they enjoy gelato is on their evening passeggiata. A time to gather with friends, walk a little and enjoy a sweet treat and conversation.
Speaking of conversation, the Italians love to talk. Trust me, if a room full of Italians is silent something is very seriously wrong.
In Italian culture, food and words go hand in hand.