Saturday, August 13, 2011

Snackin' Around Town in Italy

Italy is such a vegan-friendly place, especially Southern Italy - where they are much more likely to use olive oil than butter. It's also helpful that I speak Italian (well enough, anyway!), so I can ask and make sure that what I'm eating is vegan... Of course there are plenty of amazing looking pastries and breads and pizzas that aren't vegan, but I thought I'd show you some of the snacks I found while touristing my way across Southern Italy.

Tomatoes in Naples!
Seriously friends, those tomatoes in the south were downright glorious. I love tomatoes, I grow tomatoes, I have friends who farm organic dry-farmed tomatoes... so, it's not like I've never had a proper tomato. But the tomatoes in Southern Italy were so amazing and so full of flavor, we would often just buy a big bundle for a snack.

Stuffed focaccia in Naples
Off on some lesser-wandered, totally non-tourist back street we found this great little bakery. Mr Vegan Eats & Treats got something non-vegan (boo!), but I got one stuffed with escarole and it was great. Incidentally, according to Mr. VE&T, it was better than the one he got, so there!

Fruit Vendor in Naples
Of course, everywhere you go in Italy there are glorious vendors of fruits and veggies... where you can find delicious, hydrating, nutritious snacks! (this place is a little pricey, though!)

Open-air Market in Naples
Every once in a while you'll get extra lucky and stumble upon a bigger market... with fruits and veggies and undershirts and flea market items and notepads and other things you don't need but that are really fun to look at. The fruits and veggies are always the most beautiful though, all nicely arranged and colorful.

Antica Dolceria Bonajuto in Modica
Down in Sicily, our first destination was Modica... a beautiful little town that has a long history of making chocolate. We went to the Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, the most well-regarded chocolatier in town. Every single flavor but one was vegan, so I was quite delighted. It's not that often, as a world-traveller vegan, that I get to enjoy the regional specialties!

Traditionally there were only a few flavors, but now they make so many flavors it's quite amazing! My favorites were hazelnut, cardamom, and white pepper. Mmm. The chocolate in Modica is still made in the way that the ancient Mexicans used to make chocolate. It's a little bit gritty, but very rich and full of flavor. The history goes that when Modica was controlled by Spain (back in the day!), the Spaniards came back from Mexico with chocolate and the people in Modica have been making it that way ever since.

Pachino Cherry Tomatoes
Pachino is a little town in the SE of Sicily, famous for its cherry tomatoes. Boy Howdy, were they delicious! I bought some seeds, but it turns out that Pachino is very special because the soil there is very sandy, and the farmers use half-fresh water and half-sea water when they water their crops, which is what results is such special little tomatoes. At least, that's what the man at the seed store told me!

Sun-drying Tomatoes in Modica
Up in the sweet little residential streets of Modica, we met so many friendly and talkative folks. We spotted this beautiful display of cherry tomatoes drying in the sun, and the lady of the house (who did not want her picture taken!) came out and offered us some. Such a sweet lady, and such delicious tomatoes. She said it takes about 2-3 days for the tomatoes to dry out, depending on how big they are. Mmmm.

Oranges from Siracusa
Sicily is famous for its citrus and the oranges really were great. In fact, we saw SO much agriculture (and even wild fruit trees!) in Sicily. We saw fig trees, pomegranate trees, caper bushes, almond trees, stone fruit trees, olive trees (duh!), orange trees, lemon trees, and so much more. It was so beautiful!

Fennel Seed Taralli from Siracusa
Also in Siracusa we got some great little snacks - various cookies and crackers all made with olive oil (not butter!), and therefore vegan. These round crackers came in a few flavors, but we got the ones with salt and fennel seeds and they were crazy good. A perfect car snack for a car full of folks road-tripping around Italy! These taralli can be found in sweet or savory varieties, and of course we tried both. :)

"God is Vegetarian"
Somewhere on a small road in our travels through Southern Italy, we were just cruising along when my mom spied this excellent little graffiti moment! On the other side of this wall, they had also written "Animals Have Souls" - most excellent! I loved knowing that somewhere in the Sicilian countryside was a kindred spirit!


  1. Wow, it looks like you had an amazing and delicious trip! Everything looks so beautiful and I love that everything is so fresh. It looks like you did some good eatin' there, and it makes me want to go to Italy even more!

  2. That looks like such a fun trip. I don't travel much but I think if I did fruit and vegetable markets would be the highlight of my trips. Italy seems like it would be a great place to visit.

  3. ahhh, all that chocolate! how exciting. and i like thinking of all the little tomatoes drying in the sun.

  4. Great post Amey. We have to trade photos!! I actually got two wonderful, sweet photos of you with the dried tomato lady. And some with the capers lady. And some with the local Modica treat lady. And more! And more! Let's do a family night soon. I saved the bag of Taralli for when we're all together. One last fling. xoxo Mom

  5. Wow, amazing! All the fruit and vegetables look so gorgeous. I can totally imagine how fantastic those tomatoes must have been.

  6. Great pictures! White pepper chocolate sounds amazing. I love the focaccia picture the best - your crazy Amey eating face, and it looks like the guy on the right is a floating head :)

  7. Anonymous10:35 PM

    Looks like a great trip. We were there bicycling a couple months ago. I wouldn't boo the non-vegan food for a moment, even though I follow a vegan diet at home, and for the most part, when I was there. You just have to enjoy it. I like your recipes, by the way. I've found some good resources through your blog. Vicki

  8. Love the graffiti! I have always wanted to visit Italy (my husband has been, but in prevegan days) and wondered how vegan-friendly it would be. Thanks for the posts!

  9. That looks like a fun trip. And all the delicious food there is getting me a little hungry already!


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