Monday, July 2, 2007

Smoking and Eating

You know, there is an interesting phenomenon that happens over here. Despite the fact that Italians smoke like chimney's and tend to not have any problem eating meat that has been sitting out for hours at a time, they are some of the healthiest people I have seen. You dont hear about lung cancer and see people walking around with emphysema bags although smoking is alot like breathing for them. And you never hear about an ecoli breakouts or tainted food.

Smoking is forbidden inside any building so I guess I probably notice it more as I am dodging smoke and lit butts all day long as I walk around. I cant really say that the tourists are smoking alot...I really think its the Italians. In America, you occasionally get a smoker who feigns concern about blowing smoke at you and will give the courtesy wave to remove the smoke from in front of your face but not so here. They just smoke and blow, smoke and blow. Its actually rather amusing--they stand in doorways and yell to the people inside in order to carry on a conversation because they have to smoke. Dont get me wrong, its not like the air is so polluted that I cant breathe..its still is the most beautiful city I have seen. But the best I can do is comment on the cultural differences.

As far as food goes, I have long thought that Americans and the American food industry is just a bit too overdone. I remember growing up and eating raw hamburger meat with seasoning as a special treat. You do that nowadays and people in hazmat suits come after you. Not to mention the ecoli and tainted food breakouts that occur every 3 days in the US. How is one to keep up with all the recalled food? But here, they make their sandwiches in the morning, put them in the window in a 'colder' type shelf and there they sit all day for you to pick from--ham, maionnaise and all. The Rialto seafood market has fresh seafood caught presumably overnight and ready for your purchase but it sits there from sun up to 2pm on crushed ice with flys all around....after that, who knows what they do with the leftovers. Kitchens dont have the huge industrial type refridgerators with 18 control knobs for temperature variations. They just have a fridge. But yet, no one gets sick.

The lettuce and vegetables taste like food and they taste fresh...they arent covered in pesticides and wax. For example, when you go to the store and buy mushrooms, you will probably get alot of the ground with it...they just pull them up and package them. I actually feel a bit more comfortable eating over here....I dont wonder as much about the food, which is really contrary to what I thought since somehow we are programmed to buy into the fact that American food is better for you because of all of our 'regulations and controls'.

Do you think Americans are just over reacting? Perhaps we dont have to leave our food out all day to prove a point, but somewhere inbetween Italy and the US, there has to be a happy compromise.

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