What is Wrong With American Food?: Antica Trattoria della Pesa

I’m not afraid to generalize. What’s the point of travel if you don’t reflect on the little things that make us different?

So here’s an odd thing about the Milanese. They won’t give you specific restaurant recommendations. They’ll send you in a certain direction, perhaps to a particular street, but when it comes an actual restaurant, they are curiously mum. Luckily, I have some American co-workers who had preceded me in Milan and gave me some tips before we left. Our first recommendation, Antica Trattoria della Pesa, was right on the money.

This is the dish that inspired the title of this post. This was not like any caprese salad I’ve ever had in my life. The tomatoes reminded me of the ones my grandma grew in her garden. Things were off to a good start in Italy. But this dish also bothered me.

Ingredients of this caliber are simply not available in most of the U.S. Why is this? Why can’t we grow tomatoes like this? How has our agriculture become so alienated from our taste buds? I know a lot of people will say, “If you want fresh tomatoes, you need to grow them yourself.” And yes, I’m somewhat sympathetic to this point of view. But fundamentally, I think it’s a lame answer.

I don’t make my own television, computer, or cardboard box. There are other people in the world who can do this stuff more effectively and more cheaply than me. So why do I have to make my own tomatoes if I want good ones? I’m not opposed to cooking. But there are times when this whole eat local, grow-your-own food movement seems like a regression to the middle ages. (I do still think it would be fun to have chickens, though.)

The rest of the post speaks for itself. This was incredible pasta.

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