Food Culture on Retreat

Food Culture on Retreat

Italian Food Experience: Culture and Traditions

One of the highlights of our retreats is undoubtedly the meals experience. While every LYFE Retreat includes breakfast and two main dinners, the culinary journey transforms when we find ourselves in Italy.

Food holds a significant place in Italian culture. Growing up in an Italian household, my sister, brother and I were expected to abide by two key rules. The first rule was simple yet important: “Be home for dinner.” This was no easy task. We lived in a small house which forced us to spend most of our time playing outside but the rule was for us to share in the meal together. The old saying ‘The family that eats together, stays together” was often noted. The second rule, more subtle but equally significant, was an unspoken guideline for those preparing the meal.

While helping our mother in the kitchen, my sister decided to experiment by adding mustard to our traditional meatball recipe. During dinner, my usually quiet father questioned the unfamiliar taste of the meatballs. Upon hearing my sister’s creative culinary moment, he simply remarked that there was no need to tamper with perfection. This incident reinforced the unspoken second rule in our family – what is eaten becomes so ingrained in the family and folklore that to change anything is unthinkable.

It comes as no surprise that these two rules resonate universally across the diverse regions of Italy, providing a unique experience during our retreat.

The significance of food during a retreat cannot be overstated. It transcends mere nourishment, forming an integral part of the retreat experience. For Italians, including my extended family, food culture holds a profound significance. Discussions on the correct preparation of dishes, the ideal pairing of sauces with pasta shapes, and how many eggs in the Ricotta Pie are serious matters. However, beneath these culinary customs lies a fundamental aspect that we embrace on every Yoga Retreat: meals are a tribute to the art of slowing down and relishing each moment.

Indulging in local wines, liqueurs, and delectable dishes together is always a highlight during our retreats. It symbolizes a joyful gathering, embracing local flavors, and the essence of simplicity. These moments complement the profound experience of our yoga retreat. But what makes our meals different in Italy?  Italian cuisine offers a wide range of recipes that are simple yet delicious and their food culture emphasizes slowing down to enjoy the time together.

Italy’s renowned dishes boast the use of fresh, seasonal ingredients, adding to their irresistible charm. As we are fortunate to be traveling during Harvest Season, we will experience fresh olive oil, wine, truffles, saffron, chestnuts, and quince. Additionally, traditional Italian recipes embrace natural cooking methods, contributing to the widespread appeal of Italian cuisine. With its savory and delicious offerings, Italian food caters to a diverse range of palates, from vegetarians and vegans to carnivores and everyone in between.

Our choice of the Umbria region was influenced by its rich food traditions and fall harvests. This region boasts an array of exceptional cuisines that during our retreat you’ll have the chance to step into the kitchen and learn a little bit more about this culture of food and traditions. And when we’re not savoring the delicious meals that embody the essence of slowing down and sharing, we’ll be unwinding and practicing yoga amidst the serene setting of a farmstay, fostering a contemplative experience.