It's always great to be home. I love Arizona and of course the United States. I am proud of my country for sure - we are far from perfect, but we are an amazing group of people and country. As much as I love Italy, I would never leave the US to live permanently in Italy. Italy remains a wonderful place to visit.
I love all the conveniences we have here in the US. The nice freeways and open spaces. Our stores and product availability and wide selection. Our efficiency is amazing. But will all of these advantages and conveniences we have also given up some things that I feel deprive us of how great each and every day can be and how much more full our experience can be. There are areas where Italy far surpasses us and where we could learn from the Italian culture to enhance our daily lives and our health. That does not mean Italy couldn't learn a few things from us - like our amazing work ethic - which I think can still improve in this country. As I tell many people, if I could blend our two countries and ways of life into one culture I think it would be pretty close to perfect. A culture with a strong work ethic and an appreciation for beauty, quality and great food. Amerily!
Nothing brought this home to me more than when we got home and started to unpack, suffering from the effects of flying for 21 hours and passing 9 time zones, and I ran to Paradise Bakery for a salad and soup. Such a different experience from Italy. First - it was very fast - in comparison to Italy. However, the emphasis was purely on speed and making sure the portion I received was carefully measured and perfectly replicated. In Italy that cup of soup would be a work of art and would likely take twice if not there times to prepare. Nothing against my Paradise Bakery worker but the sour cream on the tomato soup was just randomly squirted across the surface and the tortilla chips where just quickly scattered over the top. In Italy, the sour cream would have been scripted into a beautiful pattern and the tortilla chips would be sculpted into a little tower. The soup would likely be concocted and composed from tomatoes from the local garden or farm and not from a can prepackaged with preservatives and tons of sodium.
Somehow our efficiency and need for quick and fast has taken over every aspect of our life and partially to our detriment. Our food really has suffered. One thing I notice on each trip to Italy is I can eat the food and drink the wine without any hint of heartburn or indigestion whereas in this country virtually everything here bothers me at some level. Our food is full of preservatives, chemicals, and fat. Their food is actually digestible and nourishing. Our food is slowly killing us at the expense of convenience and speed. Our health care system is a self fulling prophecy and result of the diabetes and obesity created by the mega food companies - they all stand to make billions from this system.
Thus I am so encouraged by the Farmer's Markets and Whole Foods and restaurants that use organic ingredients. I love designing home gardens and taking the time to cook with fresh ingredients grown locally. Let's all try to adapt this wonderful aspect of Italian culture - insisting our food be of higher quality and we take the time to prepare it properly and enjoy it properly.