Ribollita Italy Food Travel High School Scholarship thewanderingscholar smithsonianstudentadventures

Ribollita. Image credit: Eataly.com

Many say the epitome of Milan is the cuisine because every aspect of their food has a story mixed with rich sauces and everyone has come to love it. Beginning with breakfast,  it contains coffee, many pastries, fruits, salads, and for the most part, many healthy ingredients. Through the sources I’ve read, it is noticeable that they focus on healthy, fresh food which makes a statement on how they prioritize health and avoid food that does not benefit them. They have many markets and there has been researches done that have concluded that many in Italy tend to resort to home-cooked meals. Many know Italy as fancy, high-end meals, but there are many simple recipes and suppers that many prepare. An example of this is Ribollita which is a soup that has history tied to peasants and is now very popular. Ribollita includes: onions, olive oil, carrots, pancetta, garlic, salt, black pepper, and tomatoes. It reveals that not every person in Italy eats the foods they are known for. Also, the Margherita pizza has been tied to the poor side of Naples, but is now loved by many. Americans may recognize pizza as a meal with many toppings of your preference, but in Italy, it is a simple pie. The Margherita pizza contains: mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and fresh basil. It was originally made for the 1889 Italian queen, Margherita de Savoy, and it became her favorite food. Another famous meal that no one who has visited Italy or an Italian restaurant can ever go by without and that is pasta. “The first written record of pasta and tomato sauce is said to be found in L’Apicio Moderno, a cookbook written in 1790 by Roman chef Francesco Leonardi”. Pasta began as a food eaten with hands but people began to use cutlery because of the innovation that was Marinara sauce. As food has evolved due to immigration and food being dispersed, it is important to remember that food has been assimilated throughout the years to compromise with the diverse preferences all over the world.

The Milanese people celebrate many festivities and although it may not be the first place many think about when speaking of Italian food. Their food is significantly diverse due to the ruling the of many powers like the Spanish, the Austrians, and the French. One of the most famous Milanese food that is used all around Milan during Christmas is panettone. Panettone is a complex bread that contains warm water, dried active baking flour, warm milk,caster sugar , vanilla extract, glace fruits, lemon zest, orange zest, butter, egg yolk, and cream. It is a simple but delicious dessert to make during a cold holiday where everyone can enjoy a sweet meal.

Since the population of Milan is mostly wealthy people, the only “street food scene” there is is of aesthetic windows of food organized to attract busy workers walking the streets looking for a meal that doesn’t take too long to prepare but measures to their fancy taste. Milanese food isn’t labor-intensive but it does take a long time the better quality it is. Especially since the food in Milan is high-end, it has many ingredients but does not take too much to make the meals. Their ritual begins with breakfast , lunch is around 11 a.m. and it tends to be a quick meal, many eat around 4 p.m. because children are out of school and many are angry, and they end with dinner at 7 p.m.. It is common for everyone to drink wine because they do not view alcohol as something to consume to intoxicate but rather, as a health benefit that many know about wine. 




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Note: To help our scholars familiarize themselves with their host country, we asked each to watch a different 25-30 minute youtube video about a particular region of Italy. Each video stars Rick Steves, a foremost expert on European travel. After they watched their assigned videos, Scholars were asked to provide a summary of its contents and highlight a topic it covers that especially interests them – this could be anything from a moment in history to a place or a person. In addition to explaining their personal interest in the topic. 

Rick Steves stated, “no trip to Italy is complete without Milan and Lake Como.” Many people often overlook Milan, but it has high fashion, some of the fanciest delis, grandest cemeteries, and the greatest opera house. Milan is Italy’s “industrial, banking, publishing, and convention capital”. It overcame four centuries of domination by Spain, Austria, and France, but ended with Italian independence and unity.

Architecture was influenced by the mood and story of what was going at the time. An example is the train station which has a fascist sense to it left by Mussolini. The train station is enormous and was meant to make people feel small, too small to believe they were great enough to betray or question Mussolini. The Pirelli Tower expresses and displays the rise of Italy after the fascist period. The abundance of churches, their size, and the gothic style of architecture represents the era of religious movement. Every detail of the churches from the marble floors up to the golden Virgin Mary conveys the importance of the churches and how critical it was to perfect them.

As people gather at Milan’s Great Square, they admire the great statue of Victor Emmanuel ll who is looking at The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele ll that was a gift for him from the people of Milan because he was their first King. Now, it is the pride of Milan and has prestigious shopping centers where millions of people visit. Along with these centers is Milan’s “world-class shopping zone” called The Quadrilateral. As for prestigious food, there is a deli in Milan titled “Peck” which is where most entrepreneurs and others with prominence go to eat. It has food from sandwiches, cheese, a wine section, and even the displays show the time they take into making the food desirable enough to pay for them.

The Sforza Castle was built with brick and made large for military use but has now turned into a public space for people to visit and tour. The Cimitero Monumentale is a monumental cemetery in Milan whose detailed structure of every statue and painting is precise and accurately conveys the devastating message from death. Having researched Renaissance artists like Leonardo Da Vinci, it was interesting to find out that he was the essential influence to the aesthetics by being a sculptor, musician, dentist, scientist, engineer, and architect. He designed the largest equestrian monument in the world, but one of his greatest masterpieces is the decoration in the Monk’s Dining Hall. The Last Supper has a history of surviving when nothing else did and representing the rush of emotions in the painting perfectly. Da Vinci identified himself with Milan more than any other city which explains the significance and reasoning for his statue. Another great tourist attraction is La Scala which has been devoted to performing the grandest opera’s and having a museum with the greatest actors for those who cannot acquire a seat for the opera.

Lake Como gives off the vibes of relaxation and deja vu. It has not been renovated in many years which is honorable that people get to see what artists viewed. Bellagio is elegant which delivers what “5-star visitors what they are accustomed to”. With the large pools, the elegant food, and care for their poodles. Along with these is Varenna which is a small town with romance and may be considered the ideal harbor. It is like walking in history where artists would paint, fishers would fish, and others would go to enjoy the peace.

To admire the work of great architects like Leonardo Da Vinci and analyze the history through the stories that are expressed in the art, Milan is the optimal city to visit. It also has prestigious delis and shopping centers for those who enjoy the shopping and spending of money. For a time to relax and take a visit in history, Lake Como, Varenna, and Bellagio would be the ideal places to visit. There are many places to relax and admire the calm skies above them and water below them. People often visit the elegant hotels to experience the absolute beauty of them. read more →