Foreign Food in Florence, Italy

I interviewed a hotel clerk in Florence and asked him what his favorite foods were. He said that he loved pasta and pizza. When I asked him what his favorite non-Italian dish was he said goulash. I was very excited to find his tastes were so diverse! I asked him where he got goulash and he replied that he had tried it in Hungary. There was nowhere in Florence to eat goulash. It was very simple for him; he ate Italian food at home and when he travelled, he would sample the foreign cuisine.

Kebab restaurant in downtown Florence

During my time in Florence, I noticed that most restaurants  served traditional Italian food like pasta, polenta, pizza, panini, and snacks like gelati and coffee.   A few ethnic restaurants were grouped together with internet lounges and specialty markets. Chinese restaurants and kebab stores were the two most common foreign restaurants in Florence; they were casual, inexpensive and served a diverse young crowd.

Chinese fusion food menu.

The Slow Food Movement is a concrete example of the Italian reaction to food globalization. Italian food has always been influenced by foreign flavors, but fast food is a threat because it also influences the method of cooking and eating. Fast food allows one to eat without any work, to dine alone without remorse, to eat quickly instead of savoring. Instead of sitting around a table with family, fast food is eating alone in a car, or walking down the street, without reverence for the process or consideration of its source. It is the pleasure of eating and spending time with family that is in danger.

Dinner is served at a Tuscan farmhouse.

Florence is a city of historic importance not just for Italy but for the world. Millions of tourists visit the city each year; they want to experience not only history but what constitutes authentic Italian culture as it has been romanticized in fiction and media.  If globalized food is available in Florence, Italian traditional food loses its special quality and Florence seems just like another other global city

Traditional Italian fare

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