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November 15, 2010

Noi italiani non mangiamo la colazione americana, my host parents explained to me on my first night in Italy.  Italians don’t eat an American breakfast.

Voi mangiate pancakes, uova, bacon, ma noi no. You eat pancakes, eggs, and bacon for breakfast, but we don’t.

Italians often will tell you what you (because you are American) do or do not do.

You love hamburgers and giant cups of coffee.  You like to bake but don’t know how to cook.  You don’t spend time with your grandparents; instead you send them to “living cemeteries” in Florida.  You don’t know how to dress for the weather (shorts in October?  And no umbrella in a drizzle?  What would your mother say?)

The best I heard had to be, In Italy we don’t have the easy access to guns that you Americans do–in America you can buy a gun in a supermarket.  I could not shake the speaker free of this conviction.

Moving on.

Back to my first night with my host parents.  They pointed out all of the breakfast options, which would be available for me in the kitchen.

Espresso with milk. Little slices of pre-toasted bread (like melba toasts.) My host dad’s amazing home-made marmellata (different flavors for different seasons: apple, pear, cherry, fig.) Little yogurt cups (in super-creamy flavors like coconut, coffee, and strawberry.) Nutella. Milk. Fruit. Corn flakes.

Italians generally eat sweets, dairy, and caffeine for breakfast.  Just enough to get by until lunch, which is the real meal.  They don’t waste calories on breakfast.

I tried to tell them that most mornings in America I ate cereal and yogurt or a fried egg, not pancakes and bacon, for breakfast.

When I was growing up, though, Sunday mornings usually meant some combination of pancakes, eggs, bacon, waffles, or bagels.  That weekly brunch played the same role in my family life that the late Sunday lunch plays for Italian families–bringing everyone together in a moment of pause from other commitments, it’s a meal after which you linger contentedly over coffee or dessert, loath to resume chores or studying. As Lidia Bastianich says in an article in this week’s Parade Magazine,

I love when the main course is finished and the kids are beginning to leave the table, running around. You hear them playing in the background. I sit back and savor that moment when everybody’s contented.  Then you look around the table and people have paired off. They’re having discussions about family, or achievements, or plans. They’re talking about life and it’s beautiful.

That sentiment captures the essence of what I loved about living in Italy–it’s all in that moment that she’s talking about. This Sunday, I made pancakes and bacon for my family.

Pecan Banana Pumpkin Seed Pancakes

  • 2 1/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 cup corn meal
  • 1/3 cup flax meal
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 cups pecans
  • 3 bananas
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  1. Mix dry ingredients in one bowl and wet ingredients and sugar in the other.
  2. Add the two together and fold quickly, just until well blended.
  3. Pour batter onto a hot griddle and make pancakes as usual.

I got the basic recipe from, then made some changes and additions.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Bunny, your cat permalink
    November 15, 2010 2:16 pm

    and don’t forget – we eat everything out of cans too!!

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