Low-carb eating in Italy

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Due to the Italian genius for inefficiency I’ve been without internet access for the last couple of days since arriving in Florence. Finally the hotel has got its internet service back – sort of. As I sit here typing it goes in and out. While I’ve got the service I want to go ahead and put up a post. There are a bunch of comments stacked up that I haven’t been able to get to yet due to the lack of internet – but I will. I doubt I will today, though, because MD had a concert in a couple of hours, and I’ve got to get over to the church and do my spouse-ly duties.

Someone mentioned eating in Italy in one of the comments I posted the last time I posted them. I’m here to tell you that sticking to a low-carb diet is an absolute breeze in Italy. I’m going to post some pictures of meals that we commonly eat here so that you can see what I’m talking about.

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One of our favorite dishes in Italy is a Caprese salad made with fresh mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and basil. The best mozzarella cheese is made in the southern part of Italy and consumed there. The second best is shipped to other parts of Italy; the third best is shipped to the rest of Europe. And the least good is shipped to the good ol’ US of A. You haven’t had real mozzarella until you’ve had it in southern Italy. I’ve got a number of photos of various Caprese salads we’ve dined on over the past few days just so you can see the difference between how different restaurants prepare it. They are all good, but my favorite was is with the big mozzarella ball like the one in the above picture.

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The other thing MD and I eat all the time here is melon and prosciutto. This dish is often found in the US in Italian restaurants, but it usually consists of a big plate of melon (inexpensive to the restaurant) and a few shards of prosciutto (expensive to the restaurant). As you can see from the above picture and the others that follow, in Italy the situation is reversed: you are served small slices of intensely flavored melon and huge heaps of prosciutto. The Italian way is much better.

Below are a few pictures of variations of the Caprese salad that we’ve eaten along with a couple of shots of different prosciutto and melon. We often split a Caprese and an order of the prosciutto and melon along with a little white wine for lunch while we’re out wandering around.

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In Rome, just down from St. Peters we had a nice lunch of roast chicken along with the ever present white wine.

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Later that same day we had a good low-carb meal across the Tiber in the Campo di Fiori. I had a grilled steak; MD had veal saltimbocca.

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On the way to Florence from Rome we stopped in the little hill town of Orvietto. While there we ate at an Etruscan restaurant. We started with a plate of sausages. For our main courses, I had the pigeon and MD had the rabbit.

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I’ve got a number of other pictures of the low-carb selections we’ve availed ourselves of in Italy but the internet service – which has just been ‘fixed’ after having been down since we’ve been here has cut out at least 15 times in the course of putting up this post. I’m going to finish off for now with a photo of beautiful and delicious fruit salads – made with low-carb fruits – available in a little sidewalk restaurant in Florence. These salads were as tasty as they look. We had them along with a Caprese (what else?) and a meat and mozzarella sandwich. The sandwich is the bottom picture. It is a panini, but look at the difference between a panini as made in the US and one made in Italy. The bread in the US version is huge – in Italy it is thin, making even this kind of sandwich much more low-carb favorable.

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Next time I get reliable internet service I’ll post about a delicious Tuscan meal we had last night at a winery not far from Florence. Talk about a low-carb feast…

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19 thoughts on “Low-carb eating in Italy

  1. What are the little berries on the top of those yummie looking fruit salads? I’ve never seen them before. What do they taste like?

    I love Caprese – it’s what I plan to live on when my tomatoes ripen up.

    Hi labrat–

    They’re currents.  And they taste sort of sweet/sour.  Very tasty.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  2. Love the drool-inducing photos! I’m hoping to tag along with my husband when he attends a science meeting in Italy next year.

    I’m hoping when you get back you might blog about the “Mediterranean diet” that you encountered vs. the low fat, skimpy meat, heavy on pasta/legume/plants “Mediterranean diet” that is suggested as “healthy eating”. When I think of Mediterranean food, I picture lamb, pork, goat, veal, eggs, cheese, cream, butter, lard, and vegetables & fruits in the starring roles, with grain products as bit players. Which is the “real” Mediterranean diet?

    That proscuitto looked heavenly, by the way!

    Cheers,
    Anna

    Hi Anna–

    The very next post is going to sort of be about the Mediterranean diet, or at least the Tuscan version.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  3. Carissimo

    As i sit here in Mayo, the Yukon..i fair shot my bolt at seeing all that fantasto Euro/Iti food.
    I miss France for that(2.5 yr living in the past 12)

    If you check out where Mayo, Yukon is you might understand why !

    The moose and caribou however are stella !

    I’m glad I’m here and you’re there.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  4. The food looks so delicious and the pictures of the food made me go out to my kitchen and round up a tomato and some cheese so I could partake with you .

  5. Great! Now you’ve got me salivating. It seems to be a shame that the Italian restaurants in the US serve mostly carbs.

    It is indeed a shame.  I’ve noticed that most Americans over here eat only carbs.  They are the ones eating all the pasta, not the Italians. 

  6. Amazing pictures! Makes me want to visit! I wonder, do any restaurants you’ve been to have an “American” part of their menu? That is, a few items that Americans would more gravitate to, like high carb, high bread meals? I’m guessing just plain pasta dishes would do just that…

    Hi Michael–

    I’ve noticed that most Americans seem to gravitate to the pasta dishes whereas most Italians go for the meat dishes.  It’s apparent in their respective weights – the Italians, for the most part, are normal weight.  The Americans over here look pretty much like Americans in America.  Nuff said.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  7. I know this post relates to an MD post (“Caveat Snoozor…”) but I’m here to bust you… You took more than one Ambien, didn’t you. Tell me… it will be just between us. 🙂

    Nope.  I took only one.  I’ve taken maybe 10 Ambien in my life.  Usually a half of one gets me to sleep when I’m having a problem – which isn’t often.  The other times I took it, I hadn’t had anything to drink.  This time, however…

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  8. Hi Mike–great photos! I too would be interested to hear about the real Mediterranean diet. I think this stuff about Med. people eating lots of grains, low sat. fat, little meat, etc is a PC myth.

    Your pics show generous portions of meats (the part of the meal that really counts!). One beef I have with many American restaurants (couldn’t resist) is that they serve big portions of carbs (which I leave untouched) and skimpy pieces of meat/poultry/seafood. Of course that means more profit for the restaurant.

  9. how do you stay on plan while on vacation, and in Italy of all places? or is that just for the photos? C’mon, admit it, you’re sneakin some cannoli on the side, right?

    Not only have I not had a cannoli, I haven’t even seen a cannoli yet.

    MRE 

  10. It all looks so delicious! Fruit never looked so good.

    If you don’t mind me asking, what are those three little orange things on your plate in the first picture?

    Hi Esther–

    They are small potatoes.  That went uneaten, of course.  And I’ve got the photo to prove it.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  11. Take note doc .. the next time you come in Florence ask for “bistecca fiorentina”, the king of low-carb meal … a huge 3 lbs t-bone, cooked like only here in florence can do. Follow my advice!

    cheers

    Hi Max–

    I’ve had bistecca fiorintina many times.  This time, however, I’ve been eating tagliata di manzo, sliced beef with arugula and parmiggiano.  Truly delicious and better – I think – on a hot day than the big steak.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  12. Those pics made my mouth water! I was in Rome last October and was slightly nervous about how I’d fare with my low carb diet – but just as you said it was a breeze! The friend who I went with was not very sympathetic about my new dietary habits. I have a number of serious allergies – dairy, eggs, nuts and she thought I’d be a nightmare to travel with. However it was completely the other way around. She herself has various intolerances to dairy & wheat but proceeded to stuff herself with pasta, bread and ice cream the whole time we were there. So I had to listen to her complaining about how ill she felt – headaches, stomach pains, diarrhea etc. I got so sick of her moaning (as her problems were all totally self inflicted) that I seriously considered paying one of the pretend gladiators at the Colosseum to bludgeon her to death with his wooden sword…

  13. Yummy!!! Seeing this just makes me more excited about going to Rome!!! My friend and I were talking about food and she was of the opinion that it would be hard for me to avoid all the carbs and stick with my plan. I knew better in that I know how to adapt meals in restaurants…..so it’s nice to see you backing me up!!

    Everything looks sooooo good!! For the meals, the veal and the pigeon etc…..do they serve veggies or salads? Or is the meat the meal? The melon and prosciutto looks wonderful too!!! Hope it’s available in the spring too!!

    Not much of a wine drinker, but I will say I’m looking forward to having some in Rome!!

    The meat is pretty much the meal.  And the wine in Italy is great, especially for non-wine drinkers.  Ask for the house wine, most of which are homemade and are a little lighter and tastier than winery-made bottled wines. 

  14. OMG! It looks delicious!

    Low Carbers Dream!

    I have a hankerin for some Prosciutto now! We get some good prosciutto down here in Melbourne Australia.

  15. Great to hear you are having such a fantastic time. I am so jealous. All that food is making me hungry but thanks for sharing it is good to see how the other half of the world lives.
    Cheers & a continued safe but eventful journey to you.

    Thanks, Helen. 

  16. Loved, the photos! I was just in Italy two weeks ago. Just like you, I tried to eat as much low carb as possible outside family and friends’ homes where we were invited to dinner — sort of hard to explain the low-carb thing — thank you for the photos! brought back very fond memories! Especially the mozzarella balls — just couldn’t get enough of those!

  17. Yum!! Prosciutto, tomatoes, mozarella cheese, heaps of basil and for me some slices of avocado too, then drizzled with olive oil – one of my most favourite meals.

  18. You have relieved my mind. I spend a lot of time in Italy, and I was concerned about maintaining low carb. Fortunately, my village has two great markets with lots of fresh produce.

    Barbara