Think in taste, appreciate the ordinary

Can you customise or change a meal in Italy?

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Can I change my mind?

As an exchange student I had my first Italian pizza somewhere in the nineties. On a Saturday evening. Fifteen twenty years-olds in a probably unauthorised veranda at the back of a pizzeria. A long table, paper table cloth, television full blast and nobody watching it.

My Italian was lousy and I gave up trying to understand long before the young waiter came to take our orders. Although we had waited for over an hour, nobody seemed to have bothered looking at the menu. They acted almost surprised when asked what pizza they wanted. Some started studying the list of pizzas at length while the poor waiter stood there. Others, instead of answering, fired questions, usually regarding off menu toppings.

I pitied the waiter. Mainly because I had some waiting experience and felt his pain. That waiter was great though. Nobody ordered what the menu proposed. Some added ingredients, some had ingredients taken off, some had very specific requests on how the pizza should be baked (as it were steaks!). And yet, he stood there, calm as cucumber. In some kind of shorthand he jotted down the orders.

That is, I learned, how you order. Eating out is a social event. Food -which is usually really good- is just a part of that experience.

Italians are great restaurateurs. They deal with any kind of request. Flexibility is in their DNA, making you a happy client is their mission.

Buon appetito

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