Summer 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of the first time Pedar and I went to Italy together. We were grad students: I had just finished my first year and he was supposed to be working on his dissertation. We had both received summer travel grants from the University of Michigan to do research in Italy; we decided to pool our resources and travel together. We flew to Rome, rented a VW golf, and spent the next three weeks driving further and further into Southern Italy. We had known each other less than a year (having met the previous summer in Tunisia), and that trip solidified many aspects of our relationship. Most importantly, it is when Pedar delegated all food-related decisions to me.

Now, twenty years later, as we prepare to leave for Italy with our three children, my head has been swirling with the culinary possibilities. Italian cuisine is more regional than most Americans realize. Umbria, which is the only land-locked province in Italy, is known for its its woodland delights, such as wild boar and fresh mushrooms, particularly truffles (start saving up, Pedar…). Umbria is also home to Chianina beef, a breed of cattle native to the Chianina Valley, which divided Umbria and Tuscany.

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