By Brigid Wentz
When in Italy, unlike America, wheat and gluten are your friends. As someone who had struggled with fear foods and limiting certain foods at home, this is a new ideology for me. It’s hard to find items here without wheat; to Italians, it's a sacred ingredient. It’s been a food staple for centuries, and there is no end in sight.
It’s been so freeing here to eat whatever I want, whenever I want for the most part too. Bread, pasta, croissants: I have tried it all! It’s also interesting how fresh all the wheat products are. They’re made by hand instead of being processed in a factory.
The Tuscan, saltless bread is served with nearly every meal and has started to grow on me. At first, I only noticed how bland and boring it is, but really it just parallels the life that I’ve lived here for the past month: plain and simple, but dressed up by the places I’ve been, just as the olive oil at the table spices up the bread.
The bread is different in almost every region we’ve traveled to in Italy, and weirdly enough, my favorite has been the saltless bread here in Arezzo. With no additives, you can really appreciate the process the locals go through to make fresh bread every day. They serve the bread in small baskets and use it to absorb all the flavors of the dish by sopping up leftover sauce like a sponge.
My normal, low-calorie Sara Lee bread is not going to cut it when I’m back in Norman. The fresh food products we’ve had in Arezzo are another thing I’m going to miss when returning to the states. I’ll have to seek out specialty stores in order to recreate the infamous Vaccino sandwich I get at Dal Moro everyday. The focaccia bread they have can’t be recreated, but sourdough might have to work.
I’ve abolished my “fear” of eating bread every day, or even multiple times a day, while being here in Italy, and thank God for that. I didn’t realize how good it could make me feel and how there really shouldn’t be any fear around it.
It’s no secret, or in my opinion, no argument that Italy has better food than the states. However, being here has taught me how I can implement recipes and new foods into my routine in Oklahoma. All of these revelations are thanks to wheat.
Editors: Grace Tipps, Aly O'Shea, Taylor Glissman
Photographer: Kaiden Patch and Kaki Glieber