I had also reviewed a new book, The Smarter Science of Slim: What the Actual Experts Have Proven About Weight Loss, Dieting, & Exercise, which I might have mentioned before. This book argues persuasively, with a great deal of respectable research, that weight is about metabolism regulated by hormones, and is not primarily a matter of calories eaten and calories burned.
Rather, the author claims, it’s about eating foods suited to our bodies, rather than stuff we cleverly devised. Fruits and vegetables, lean meats, the occasional plain nonfat dairy products and whole grains, and some nuts and seeds to round it out. In other words, the same no-simple-carbs no-saturated-fats regimen on which I lost 30 pounds some years ago.
I thought I might give it a go, but obviously I didn’t plan to do that in Rome, where I intended to eat pasta, pastry, bread, cheese, and whatever else I was offered.
I did eat everything I wanted to eat, and all I wanted of it. There definitely was pasta and bread and cheese, though not as much pastry as you might imagine — or not as much that I chose to eat, I guess, since I think pastry was available every day.
I lost a couple of pounds. #2 daughter gained a few.
Now, we were walking and climbing stairs for hours every day. We were drinking lots of water. We didn’t snack, and we ate no fast food and no junk food.
It is possible that, by eating wholesome ingredients simply prepared on a regular schedule and moving a lot, we both got our hormones and metabolisms operating as they should and began moving toward the proper weights for us.
I intended, when I came home, to continue eating in this wholesome fashion. I have not done so. We’ve had carry out or restaurant food every day, I’ve snacked on Hallowe’en candy and tortilla chips, and a couple of times I’ve drunk soda, which I don’t even like. I also only made it to gym class once and only even managed the Wii Fit 30 minutes once.
It is true, I think, that the environment here where I live is not conducive to healthy eating or to exercise.
However, it has also been a frantic and stressful week, which doesn’t have to be true of the coming week. I’m planning to go to the grocery store this morning and collect some lean meats and fruit and veg, and to get my house in order so that I can have a calm week.
The food of Rome, some of which I’m showing you here, was very simple. Good quality ingredients simply prepared, with very little in the way of sauces.
Most meals began with platters of sliced meats and cheeses and vegetables. Sometimes there were little meatballs, or olives, and sometimes the Caprese salads shown here. Melon or sauteed mushrooms might also be offered at this point.
We ate these things and thought we’d had quite a good dinner, but then the waiters would come along with plates of pasta or pizza. The pasta was well cooked and had just a little sauce, either tomato or butter and vegetable, sometimes a bit of bacon or something, but not the hearty red meat and cream sauces we have here.
Again, this seemed like plenty of food, and we felt a bit surprised when the waiters came along with more plates.
The next thing would generally be a piece of meat: beef, fish, or chicken with a bit of sauce which was again mostly vegetable and very light. The quantity was comfortable for me, not the large amounts generally offered in restaurants here.
Some of the Aussies and Americans complained about the sizes of the plates initially, but we would have five or eight small plates brought to us in the course of a meal.
We had sparkling and still water and a couple of wines on the table usually, and I think that about half the meals ended in tiramisu. Either it was an amazing coincidence or this is a very popular dessert in Italy.
We had puff pastry with fruit and cream a couple of times, but generally tiramisu.
Next came espresso. Cappucinno is strictly for breakfast in Italy, cafe Americano can be had in Rome, and tea is served in miniscule quantities in the hotel at breakfast and otherwise forget it.
On one occasion, we had to leave without espresso because we were running late for a tour, and the innkeeper was very upset. He stood in the restaurant calling to us with an alarmed expression, “Espresso! Espresso!?” as though we had left our wallets behind.
So, while not all the courses made it into pictures, the photos on this page give a fairly good idea of a day’s eating in Rome. Just add a few more course and a lot more things to drink.