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Old 05-18-2016, 04:57 AM   #41
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Our comment on the food served was it was "dumbded down" to suit the Midwestern taste.
Like many areas of the country, if you go to a major metropolitan area in the Midwest, you only need to eat boring food if you choose to. With a diverse immigrant population, the variety of foods is amazing. Historically, the industrial cities attracted European immigrants. In recent times there has been an influx of Middle Eastern and Far Eastern immigrants. I have a brother living in suburban Detroit, and there you can find just about any kind of restaurant (and market) you can think of. Greek, Indian, Italian, Lebanese, Asian....the list goes on and on. That food is anything but bland.
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Old 05-18-2016, 06:28 AM   #42
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Not that I can speak for him, but I think what SC meant was it was dumbed down to please the American masses, if not at least be edible to a wide range of people. I know I have gotten food like that on a cruise, as well as on tour group trips to Europe. The food served at group meals on the group tour was very Americanized and bore only a little resemblance to what you'd get if you ventured out on your own. Just like at EPCOT (Disney), those country-specific restaurants serve very Americanized dishes, at least all of the ones I've eaten in.

I went to see DD and the GDs this past weekend and we went out for lunch. DD and I started talking about the trip we took to Italy when she was in her early 20s. We took a group tour because I wasn't really comfortable traveling with just me and her by ourselves, besides the fact that an Italian woman I corresponded with said it wasn't the best idea if we wanted to go into the countryside and not just stay in the big cities. Anyway, DD wanted to spend some extra time in Rome so went a few days before the tour started. We found a tiny little restaurant close to our hotel that we ate dinner in every night but the first when we were so jet lagged and exhausted from traveling. They didn't speak a word of English and my Italian is extremely basic. She made the comment that the meals in that restaurant were the best food she's ever had. I told her for me it was there and a little place in Stresa way back up in the local part of town that a local had sent me and Craig to when we were there, as well as a tiny little mom-pop front of the house they lived in restaurant that my friends took me to the first time I visited Italy in my mid-20s. There was only 1 restaurant that Craig and I went to with the tour group where we had good mostly true Italian food and that was out in the country where there weren't a lot of choices for them to stop. Needless to say, DD and I, as well as Craig and I went our own way for dinner when it was at the hotels we were spending the night at.

I will say though the Autogrills on the autostrada in Italy do have really good food, absolutely nothing like you get at the Florida Turnpike Service Plazas for any of you that have had the "pleasure" of stopping at 1 of those.
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Old 05-18-2016, 10:36 AM   #43
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I agree about the Autogrills. Good food. My wife and I rented a car in Milan and drove to Venice, then to Florence, Sienna, and back up through Piza to Porto Venera, ultimately returning to Milan after 2 weeks on the road. We did not go to Rome - Sienna was as far south as we got. I'm not a big city type of guy, so I don't think that I would have enjoyed Rome nearly as much as I did the areas we visited.

We loved stopping to eat in some of the little towns along the way, and had some great food, even though we often couldn't communicate very well. When you get off the beaten track, English becomes less spoken (the one Italian phrase I learned well was "birra ala spina" - that's beer on tap - in northern Italy, beer is as common as it is in Austria and Germany, even served at Burger King - and no, we didn't eat there ), but the people are wonderful, and we had some really good times there.
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Old 05-18-2016, 10:56 AM   #44
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DD wanted to have lots of time in the Vatican museums. We spent better part of 3-1/2 days in them and she still would have liked more. Plus there was a touring Egyptian collection in one of the smaller museums in Rome that she wanted to see. We also went off on our own once we joined the tour group to some museums. She's a big history buff. I've never walked so much in my life. We both actually lost weight, enough so that pants were getting REAL loose, even though we were constantly stuffing our faces at mealtimes.
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Old 05-18-2016, 02:44 PM   #45
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DD wanted to have lots of time in the Vatican museums. We spent better part of 3-1/2 days in them and she still would have liked more. Plus there was a touring Egyptian collection in one of the smaller museums in Rome that she wanted to see. We also went off on our own once we joined the tour group to some museums. She's a big history buff. I've never walked so much in my life. We both actually lost weight, enough so that pants were getting REAL loose, even though we were constantly stuffing our faces at mealtimes.
We visited the Ufizzi Museum in Florence, we got to see Da Vinci's Last Supper in Milan. We also visited Etruscan ruins and an Etruscan museum in the Tuscany and Chianti regions with an off the beaten path guide who spends his vacations as an archaeologist, working with a team at Etruscan archaeological sites.

There is so much to see and do in Italy that we deliberately planned our 3 week trip to stay north of Rome so as not to try and do too much and miss out on the overall experience.
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Old 05-18-2016, 08:57 PM   #46
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Not that I can speak for him, but I think what SC meant was it was dumbed down to please the American masses, if not at least be edible to a wide range of people. I know I have gotten food like that on a cruise, as well as on tour group trips to Europe. The food served at group meals on the group tour was very Americanized and bore only a little resemblance to what you'd get if you ventured out on your own. Just like at EPCOT (Disney), those country-specific restaurants serve very Americanized dishes, at least all of the ones I've eaten in.
Thank you for clarifying my comment. I certainly did not want to insult anyone from the Midwest. I was specifically talking about the cruise we were on. I did find the solution to take on a cruise, however to liven up the bland food. See below
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Old 05-18-2016, 10:32 PM   #47
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OK, Sous', you're forgiven. Next time, use a more general phrase like "dumbed down for those with unrefined palettes". After all, it's a whole lot easier for you to add some spices to your serving of food; it's harder for Joe Average Tastebuds to take it out.

Nice little collection of seasonings. It sounds like something that would be perfect for you two on a cruise with average food. FWIW, our son walks around with a tiny bottle of Tabasco sauce whenever we go out to eat. Gotta love that kid!
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Old 05-19-2016, 08:36 AM   #48
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I can't tell you how many times I have been asked to recommend a "good Italian" restaurant in Boston's North End. I always tell the visitor to look in the door and if they see one with only two or three tables, they have found it. The smaller the establishment, the more authentic the food. But keep in mind, each area of Italy has its own specialties. Where one area of Italy used a red gravy, another used a cream sauce. But no Italian I ever knew growing up served the meat on top of the pasta. It is always served as a side. Very little sauce is tossed with the pasta. The rest is served in a gravy boat type vessel for the diner to use. And meatballs are an American 'thing'. I warn the tourist that they will often fail to see meatballs with pasta being offered. You order the meatballs separate. At a separate cost.
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Old 05-19-2016, 09:17 AM   #49
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I can't tell you how many times I have been asked to recommend a "good Italian" restaurant in Boston's North End. I always tell the visitor to look in the door and if they see one with only two or three tables, they have found it. The smaller the establishment, the more authentic the food.
When we were in Boston, we ended up in a huge Italian restaurant in the North End near the river. Oddly, we were the only ones there at lunchtime. The pictures of celebrities eating there that lined the staircase convinced us to stay. It was delicious and we had the best service as well as a great view.

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But keep in mind, each area of Italy has its own specialties. Where one area of Italy used a red gravy, another used a cream sauce. But no Italian I ever knew growing up served the meat on top of the pasta. It is always served as a side. Very little sauce is tossed with the pasta. The rest is served in a gravy boat type vessel for the diner to use. And meatballs are an American 'thing'. I warn the tourist that they will often fail to see meatballs with pasta being offered. You order the meatballs separate. At a separate cost.
In Florence, I had a meal of tiny lemony meatballs with a light tomato sauce and pasta. It was so good, we went back to that restaurant later in the week. They're not the same as here, and not as common, but they are available and it was interesting to see a different take on what we were used to seeing.
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