Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Flexitarianism and Italian cuisine

Now this is what a sardonic Italian would describe as la scoperta dell'acqua calda, literally, the discovery of hot water i.e., something that's been around forever and everybody knows about.

Flexitarianism. A polysyllabic word ending in -ism, no less, as if it were an ideology or world view. What it describes is the practice of eating little meat or fish (but especially meat). Leave it to my fellow Americans to think that this is something new, deserving of a high-falutin' new word. Folks, this is how almost everybody has eaten historically, and how most people in the world eat even now, albeit with encroaching meatiness from our influence via McDonald's etcetera.

Italian cuisine has always been "flexitarian." The Italians do not see an average meal as we do, that is, a largish portion of meat (usually) or (sometimes) fish, with two "sides." They do not have meat every time they have a meal, and with the exception of Alto-Adige, which is Germanic, never have it at breakfast. Meat and fish are often used as flavoring or ingredients in sauces, not as the main feature. Even sandwiches and pizzas have less meat. Protein can also be had by cheeses, other dairy, legumes. And this way of eating will save you money, too.

So, if anything, we need a word for the contemporary American way of eating. Let's call it crazyexpensiveunhealthyunsustainableism.That might help wrest some of us from our burgers and chicken nuggets.

(in the photo, a large meat-lover's pizza, a prime example of crazyexpensiveunhealthyunsustainableism. I admit it looks tasty, though)